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Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Europe tightens security
Manhattan skyline
Manhattan: The attacks have had far-reaching effects
By Colin Blane in Brussels

Everyone who watched the destruction of the World Trade Center on TV or listened to eye-witness accounts on radio spoke of how the world would never be the same again - and they were right.

Air travellers lie down as they queue
One effect: Longer airport queues
The changes have been rapid and far-reaching - from long delays at airports, to security checks in public buildings that are suddenly much, much tighter.

European transport ministers are looking at beefing up baggage checks and possibly even having locked cockpit doors and air marshals on passenger planes.

And, of course, there is a fresh determination to round up anyone who might be contemplating any form of terrorist act.


On Wednesday the European Parliament is expected to move towards a European arrest warrant.

Police at the duomo in Milan
Another effect: More police
There has already been a wave of arrests: four in the Netherlands last week; two more detained in Belgium; a French woman picked up in Corsica.

According to a French report, one of those detained in Belgium was suspected of planning to blow up the US embassy in Paris.

The Belgian prosecutor hasn't confirmed the details but has said a Tunisian has been charged with intent to destroy a building with explosives.

The Belgian police found two machine guns in their searches.

The arrests - across three countries - are said to be linked to an investigation which began a year ago.

Without commenting on the detail of the arrests, Belgium's Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, has said he believes that a terrorist network - connected with Osama Bin Laden - has been established across the EU for the past 10 years.

Gas rumour

Made to feel vulnerable by the US atrocities, police and politicians are suddenly more vigilant.

Ziad Jarrah
Ziad Jarrah: One of three suspected hijackers from a Hamburg university
The British Defence Minister, Geoff Hoon, has spoken of the need to be watchful against the threat of a biological attack.

And the Belgian newspaper, De Standaard, has reported that just such a warning has been sent out from the United States to experts in infectious diseases around Europe.

MEPs were also in a state of alarm this week after hearing of a report of a plot to flood the debating chamber in Strasbourg with deadly sarin gas earlier this year.

That doesn't seem to have had much foundation in fact.

But across the European Union, new and tougher anti-terrorist measures are being prepared.

The German authorities are alarmed that three men who studied in Hamburg have been implicated in the attacks on the United States.

Like the Belgians, the French, the British - all EU governments indeed - they will be pressing for a new anti-terrorism drive - which will be jump-started at an emergency heads of government summit in Brussels on Friday.

The BBC's Colin Blane
reports on the European response
See also:

15 Sep 01 | Europe
Europe hunts for US clues
15 Sep 01 | Americas
Worldwide hunt for hijack plotters
14 Sep 01 | Europe
FBI 'ignored leads'
13 Sep 01 | Americas
Hijackers 'known' to FBI
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