Al-Qaida threat at least as high as before 9/11, German official says

Leaders have regrouped, interior minister warns

January 26, 2003|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

WASHINGTON - Al-Qaida's leadership has regrouped, is communicating with members worldwide, and poses a threat to the United States and Europe as great as that before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, says one of the leading architects of Germany's war on terror.

"With all that we now know, the threat [from al-Qaida] is at least as high as it was before the Sept. 11 attacks - at least that high," German Interior Minister Otto Schily said during an interview Friday night with a small group of American journalists in Washington.

Schily, who holds a post roughly equal to Attorney General John Ashcroft's, also said his nation's security services are girding for the possibility that a U.S.-led war on Iraq could prompt further terrorist attacks.

Although he declined to provide specifics or name people, Schily said al-Qaida leaders have "effective coordination" with their terror cells around the globe. He said unspecified intelligence shows the "network is working" again through those leaders.

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