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Sunday, 16 September, 2001, 09:54 GMT 10:54 UK
Terror cells 'operating in UK'
Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden in 1998
Osama Bin Laden is believed to have networks in 34 countries, including the UK
Supporters of terrorist groups linked to Osama Bin Laden are believed to be operating in Britain.

Intelligence sources say some of the planning for Tuesday's attacks in New York city and Washington may have been carried out in London.

The terrorists are in place, and there is very little to stop them

Intelligence source
MI5 and M16 are said to be searching for members of the Bin Laden network who may be connected to the suicide hijackers.

According to newspaper reports, at least three terrorist cells linked to the Saudi dissident are based in the UK.

London-based associates may have recruited and trained volunteers, helped secure false passports, supplied communications equipment and raised money to buy weapons, it was reported on Sunday.

Few safeguards

There are thought to be dozens of terrorists in Britain who have been associated with Mr Bin Laden or who have trained at his camps.

One intelligence source told The Independent on Sunday: "There is no reason why what happened in America couldn't happen in Britain or in any European country.

"The terrorists are in place, and there is very little to stop them."

The problem for officials is that the groups are amorphous, and hard to identify unless they commit a terrorist act.

Two alleged supporters of Mr Bin Laden are being held in British jails facing extradition to the United States following arrests in 1998 and 1999, the Independent on Sunday said.

Euro-MP plot

In separate revelations, it was reported that a terror cell funded by Mr Bin Laden plotted to attack the European Parliament building in Strasbourg.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, a six-strong group planned to release nerve gas during the session of Parliament from February 11 to 14 this year.

Flags fly at high mast outside the European Parliament building in Strasbourg
The European Parliament building may have been a planned target
But the plot was foiled by German police investigating counterparts in Frankfurt, the newspaper said.

Six men based in Britain were arrested and charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, it was reported, but charges were later dropped "for security reasons".

Associate networks of the Saudi fugitive are said to span 34 countries.

FBI agents believe Mr Bin Laden himself visited London for several months in 1994.

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