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Germany: al-Qaida still recruiting
( 2002-11-05 09:53 ) (7 )

Osama bin Laden is probably alive and his al-Qaida terrorist network still recruits followers in Europe, the head of Germany's intelligence service said Monday.

Western spy agencies also have noted an increase in worldwide communications among members of the terrorist network in recent weeks and months, said August Hanning, director of Germany's Federal Intelligence Service.

"We see no all-clear signal at this time. Rather, we are seeing an increase in (terrorist) activities," Hanning said in a speech to a security conference in Berlin.

Bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are suspected of hiding in the Afghan-Pakistani border area southeast of the Afghan capital Kabul, he said.

The United States has said it does not know whether bin Laden, who is suspected of orchestrating the Sept. 11 attacks, is alive.

Hanning has previously said that German intelligence believes bin Laden is most likely alive and that al-Qaida remains a potent threat despite the destruction of its bases in Afghanistan.

In his speech Monday, Hanning said al-Qaida's ability to mobilize followers in Arab countries and Europe "remains relatively high."

A cell of the Sept. 11 allegedly plotted the attacks while in Hamburg and Hanning said such activity remains a threat. "We see that recruiting is going on," he said. "We have European centers that are still being used for recruiting today."

German authorities have increased anti-terror precautions since a speaker said to be al-Zawahiri issued a warning to U.S. allies to get out of the Muslim world in a taped interview circulated last month.

"The mujahid youth has already sent messages to Germany and France," the speaker said. "However, if these doses are not enough, we are prepared with the help of Allah, to inject further doses."

A May 8 attack on a bus in Pakistan killed 11 French engineers and an April 11 blast at a synagogue in Tunisia killed 16 people, including 11 Germans. Both attacks have been linked to al-Qaida.



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