Attack on Marine was dedicated to bin Laden

Video was left by Kuwaiti who led assault last week

October 13, 2002|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

KUWAIT CITY - The Kuwaiti leader of an attack that killed a U.S. Marine last week left a videotape indicating that he was a member of al-Qaida, Kuwait's interior minister said yesterday.

The group was planning other terrorist operations, said the minister, Sheik Muhammad Khaled al-Sabah.

Fifteen people have been charged with aiding the attack, which was led by Anas Ahmad Ibrahim al-Kandari. Kandari, 21, who was killed with his cousin in the attack, had said in a videotaped message that he was dedicating the operation to al-Qaida's leader, Osama bin Laden, the Kuwaiti minister said.

But he said that besides the statement by Kandari and the fact that several members of the group had spent time in Afghanistan, investigators had not uncovered any concrete evidence to link the group with al-Qaida.

That contradicted earlier statements by an Interior Ministry official, who said several members of the group had confessed to belonging to al-Qaida.

"We have no information the attack was ordered from outside," Sabah said.

He said the investigation had uncovered plans for larger-scale attacks against American interests here, though he declined to discuss specific targets for security reasons.

Kuwaitis close to the investigation said those targets included an oil tanker, an entertainment park near the Camp Doha military base, a building where U.S. troops live and the Universal American School, attended mostly by Kuwaiti children but staffed by Americans.

Sabah said the militant group had concluded that security at some of those targets was too tight for a successful attack. But no evidence has been found that the group had the means to carry out such attacks, he said.

He added that security had been increased at U.S. installations and U.S.-affiliated schools since Tuesday's attack that killed the Marine.

The attack was unprecedented in a country that prides itself on being the United States' strongest ally in the Persian Gulf. American soldiers ended a seven-month occupation of Kuwait by Iraq in 1991. About 8,000 U.S. civilians live in Kuwait, and 10,000 U.S. troops are stationed here.

But anti-U.S. feelings have grown among Islamic fundamentalists in the country, particularly in the militant fringe. Dozens of young Kuwaitis have fought on behalf of Muslims in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. Al-Qaida's spokesman, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, was a Kuwaiti citizen until the government stripped him of his citizenship a year ago.

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