AL QAEDA PLAN TERRORIST ATTACK DURING BUSH’S LONDON VISIT
by Gordon Thomas
An Al Qaeda sleeper operative – posing as an asylum seeker – was arrested in Belfast last week linked to a planned terrorist attack in London on President Bush.
The city has been designated by intelligence chiefs as having the same threat level as Baghdad during his visit this week.
The 36 year-old Algerian operative had documents about vials of anthrax and botulism which disappeared from a former Soviet Union secret lab outside Prague two years ago.
The man arrived in Northern Ireland eighteen months ago seeking asylum. But MI5 agents were suspicious why he had come to Belfast. Six months ago, he was detained as an illegal immigrant. Intelligence agents began to check his background.
They discovered he had contacts in a group of Al Qaeda sympathisers based at a mosque in a Dublin city suburb. He also had links to Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri – the one-eyed cleric now spreads his extreme Islamic Fundamentalism outside London’s Finsbury Park mosque, from which he is barred entering.
Initially, the intelligence agents feared the Algerian might be trying to establish links with IRA extremists. But with no evidence to suggest that, MI5 began working closely with MI6 and European security services. They traced the man’s journey to Belfast. They found he had made contact with Al Qaeda supporters in France and Spain – and discovered biowarfare documents.
Since then, MI6 intelligence agents have tried to trace the two deadly substances stolen from Prague. They fear the vials could have been smuggled into Britain on board the Eurostar by one of Al Qaeda’s other sleeper agents in the country.
“Both substances were among the most lethal in the Soviet bio-arsenal,” confirmed Ken Alibek, former head of Moscow’s biowarfare programme. He defected to the United States in 1992. Today, he works on bio-defence for the US government.
“Hundreds of spores can fit on top of a pinhead – and kill thousands,” added Alibek.
The Algerian is being held in a high security centre while MI5 continue to grill him.
CIA director, George Tenet, the head of 650 US secret agents guarding Bush during the visit, has warned them of the threat of a biological attack.
Experts from Porton Down, Britain’s bio-defence establishment on Salisbury Plain, will be stationed in London during the President’s three-day visit.
GCHQ will focus hundreds of computers and electronic listening devices to pick up “a whisper in the wind” of any danger.
At Menwith Hill in the north of England, where America’s National Security Agency, NSA, has its European facility, its ultra-secret surveillance system, ECHELON, will be programmed to keep track of any threat to Bush.
The system links with NSA satellites to high-speed computers. They can intercept phone calls, faxes and emails received and sent from all over the world – at the rate of 500,000 a SECOND.
On the ground, 5,000 London police officers will form the visible evidence of an unprecedented security operation.
Mingling with them will be teams of MI5/MI6 agents – some flown in from Iraq specially for the occasion.
Their task is to try and spot any Al Qaeda terrorist among the hundreds of thousands of expected protestors.
In another unprecedented move, Israel has assigned eight Mossad agents, each a specialist in counter-terrorism, to reinforce security at specific Jewish institutions in London during the Bush visit.
But it will be the 650 American agents – drawn from the CIA, FBI and the President’s own secret service detail – who will have prime responsibility for the President’s security.
Their demands have not endeared them to Britain’s own security services. The American agents have demanded:
* The names and personal details, including political affiliations, of all those who will attend Bush’s planned visit to Parliament.
Maverick MP George Galloway, recently sacked from the Labour Party for his support for Saddam Hussein, has called the demand “disgraceful and an insult to the home of all democracy”.
* A similar vetting demand has been made to Buckingham Palace for the names and background of all guests who will attend the State banquet the Queen will host for Bush.
US agents have also asked for the names and background of all food suppliers for the banquet.
The vegetables will come from Prince Charles’ Highgrove Gardens.
* The President is bringing his own chefs to cook his favourite Texas beef (for hamburgers) and Mexican chilli.
As the volume of protest grows – led by London’s mayor, Ken Livingstone, the US agents are turning the centre of the capital into a potential battle zone.
* Fifty sniper agents will be positioned overlooking every place where Bush will be publicly visible when he steps, however briefly, from his armoured limo.
* Sixty sniffer dogs will be withdrawn from normal duty at Britain’s airports to hunt for drugs or explosives and roam ceaselessly among the protestors – expected to reach 100,000.
* An outer security perimeter will extend to the Channel Tunnel and to all access ports from Ireland during Bush’s visit.
* An even wider net will extend deep into Europe. French, German and Italian security services will be constantly tracking the movements of anyone suspected of links to Al-Qaeda.
* Air Force One will be escorted into London by US fighter jets based in Britain. They will be fitted with missiles to shoot down any threatening aircraft.
This decision follows the Pentagon’s warning last week that Al-Qaeda are planning to use freight planes as a weapon.