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Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 22:25 GMT
US to bar 'terrorist' immigrants
US Attorney General John Ashcroft
Ashcroft: "We will detain, prosecute, and deport terrorist aliens"
The US Attorney General, John Ashcroft, has designated 46 organisations as terrorist groups and banned their members from entering the country.

Mr Ashcroft also announced the formation of a new anti-terrorist tracking task force to keep suspected terrorists out of the United States.

We're not talking about immigration, we're talking about evil

James Ziglar, Immigration Commissioner
The Attorney General said one of the department's functions would be to crack down on suspects already in the country.

"We will detain, prosecute, and deport terrorist aliens who are already inside the national border," Mr Ashcroft said.

"America will not allow terrorists to use our hospitality as a weapon against us."

The attorney general said some of the proscribed groups were connected to Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation, while others include those which have had their assets frozen.

Mr Ashcroft compared the approach to campaigns the US waged against organised crime 40 years ago.

Then he said, mobsters would be arrested for spitting on the pavement.

The task force will be headed by FBI deputy assistant director Steven McCraw.

Immigration Commissioner James Ziglar said the task force would provide immigration officials with "real time access to information", adding: "We're not talking about immigration, we're talking about evil."

Terror alert

The move comes a day after the FBI said it had "specific and credible" information terrorists were planning another attack on the US or against American interests abroad.

President Bush
President Bush has frozen the assets of groups suspected of terrorism

US intelligence officials said one of Bin Laden's deputies in Afghanistan had recently called for new attacks against thre US, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The officials believed known al-Qaeda members in Canada, Asia and elsewhere were involved in planning attacks.

It was the second warning since 11 September of the possibility of more terrorist acts.

An earlier warning was issued on 11 October, which FBI director Robert Mueller said "may well have" prevented an attack.

More than 1,000 people have been detained by US authorities since 11 September.

Last month, President george W Bush signed an executive order freezing the assets of 27 individuals and organisations suspected of involvement in terrorism.

Mr Bush described the order as a "strike on the financial foundation of the global terror network", saying it was the opening shot of the war against terrorism.

See also:

31 Oct 01 | Americas
America on edge
26 Oct 01 | Americas
US anti-terror laws draw fire
26 Oct 01 | Europe
US seeks EU help against terror
12 Oct 01 | Business
US tightens 'terror cash' laws
24 Sep 01 | Americas
Bush calls halt to terror funding
12 Oct 01 | Americas
FBI fears more terror attacks
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