Al Qaeda Seen Planning Major Strikes - Bin Laden Alive
Fri Nov 8, 7:56 AM ET

PARIS (Reuters) - Al Qaeda militants seem to be preparing simultaneous
attacks in several countries including the United States, the head of the
world-wide police authority Interpol said in a newspaper interview published
on Friday.

Without saying an attack was imminent, Interpol Secretary General Ronald
Noble told the Paris daily Le Figaro that recent intelligence suggested it
was gearing up for the attacks.

Noble also said he thought Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was alive,
even though nobody has been able to track him down.

"Something worrying is going on," he said. "All intelligence experts are
agreed that al Qaeda is preparing a major terrorist operation, simultaneous
attacks that would not target the United States alone but several countries
at the same time."

"The field of battle now stretches to all countries and mobilizes several
terrorist groups," he said.

Noble, the first American to head the France-based operation that
coordinates international crime fighting, said that, despite some successes
in cracking down on militant groups, particularly in Europe, the risk of attacks
was as real as ever.

"I would say that the risk today is at least as important as before September
11. Sleeping cells remain in place, unknown to the police, but ready to act
from one day to another," he said.

Noble is the latest of a number of security experts to have said recently they
think Saudi-born militant bin Laden escaped U.S. bombing last year of his
former hideout in Afghanistan.

"Osama bin Laden is alive," he said.

"Despite intensive searches, we have not managed to locate him. But until
someone can prove to me the contrary, I consider Osama bin Laden a fugitive
who is alive," he said.

Noble said bin Laden's funding had been left intact by efforts to crack down
on the financing of militant groups.

"Osama bin Laden is a multimillionaire. He was hugely rich before September
11 and he still is today." he said, estimating his fortune at between $280-300
million, a large part of which was held in cash.

General Richard Myers, the most senior U.S. military officer, said on Thursday
he believed al Qaeda would still be able to launch a "major terrorist operation"
whether bin Laden was alive or dead, and that several operations had already
been thwarted.




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