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Friday, 18 January, 2002, 12:13 GMT
Global raids target al-Qaeda
US soldier displays jumpsuit as worn by al-Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo
US action to bring al-Qaeda to justice has not flagged
The US-led hunt for al-Qaeda terror suspects and other militants has triggered a spate of arrests worldwide.

In the latest operation, Bosnia-Hercegovina handed six suspected Islamic militants - five Algerians and a Yemeni - over to the US military.

The transfer came as Britain and the Philippines announced new arrests in their search for al-Qaeda suspects and the US prepared to try a Briton on charges of planning to bomb an airliner.

Bosnian police wrestle down protester against transfer of suspected Islamic militants
The US expects its allies to act just as firmly

Al-Qaeda is estimated to have a presence of some kind in 40-50 states around the globe and the US has made clear that it fears new attacks are imminent.

Despite the failure to track down al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, the anti-terror campaign launched after the 11 September attacks on America appears to be bearing fruit:

  • Police in Leicester, Britain, charge two men with al-Qaeda membership and arrest a further 13 in raids believed linked to Islamic militancy
  • The US military takes custody of six Arab terror suspects after their release by the Bosnian authorities
  • Police in the Philippines arrest three bomb suspects, one of whom is believed to be a key al-Qaeda figure from Indonesia
  • Police in Pakistan arrest five al-Qaeda suspects found trying to enter from Afghanistan disguised as women in the all-enveloping burqa garment
  • Al-Qaeda suspect Richard Reid is due in court in Boston, USA, on charges of trying to bomb an airliner with a device hidden in his shoe
  • Total number of al-Qaeda/Taleban suspects being held at the US naval base in Cuba reaches 110, with several hundred more still being held by the US in Afghanistan

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has told the BBC that he expects new attacks by al-Qaeda.

US officials point to videotapes which have come to light in Afghanistan, showing five militants apparently preparing for suicide missions.

"These men could be anywhere in the world," said US Attorney General John Ash.

In Afghanistan itself, the US military is still pursuing the remnants of al-Qaeda and its Taleban allies.

US troops land in the Philippines
The Philippine Government strongly backs the US military presence

According to Mr Rumsfeld, two other countries are of particular concern: Somalia and the Philippines.

Somalia, which lacks a strong government and has numerous warlords, has long been seen as a base for al-Qaeda or its sympathisers.

But analysts believe that any military action there could be hampered by the complexity of the country's clan structure and a lack of hard intelligence on targets.

The Philippines, by contrast, is a close US ally committed to defeating militants within its Muslim minority - the Abu Sayyaf group which has links to Osama Bin Laden.

American troops have already disembarked on the southern island of Basilan, with plans for an eventual force of 600 personnel who are officially being described as military instructors.

See also:

18 Jan 02 | Europe
US takes Bosnia terror suspects
18 Jan 02 | Americas
US alert over 'al-Qaeda' videos
18 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
US troops arrive in Basilan
18 Jan 02 | Americas
Shoe bomb suspect due in court
17 Jan 02 | England
UK al-Qaeda suspects remanded
18 Jan 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Bosnia-Hercegovina
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