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Al Qaeda reportedly seeking new targets
( 2002-02-20 11:30 ) (7 )

Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network is regrouping and could be planning more strikes against the West, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

The newspaper, quoting western intelligence sources, said waves of arrests and the targeting of terrorist funds since September 11 had failed to quell the group's activities.

"There are a lot of these guys out there, and they will pick themselves off the floor and strike again," a senior intelligence official told the paper.

The source said the group was successfully recruiting new members, reorganising its leadership and could be seeking new targets.

The United States and Europe have been on high alert for new attacks since September, when terrorists smashed three hijacked planes into the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon at Washington. A fourth plane crashed in a Pittsburgh field.

Security officials are said to be particularly concerned about al Qaeda "sleepers" who have been in place since before September 11.

The "sleepers" could be planning new action with logistical support from members in Britain and Europe, the Financial Times said, adding that around 100 bin Laden supporters were thought to be in Britain and up to 4,000 within Europe.

"Trying to get to grips with the threat is going to be a long, painstaking process," another intelligence source told the paper.

"If the public is looking for weekly round-ups they are going to be disappointed."



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