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Terrorism: December 26, 1999
   
The full story has become known of the incident which triggered a world-wide terrorist alert. The State Department had said only that "about a dozen" suspected terrorists were arrested "somewhere in the Middle East". It is now known that there were 13 people (11 Jordanians, an Iraqi, and an Algerian) and they were arrested in Jordan. They had just arrived from Afghanistan, and have been traced back to the camps run by Osama bin Laden. They were detected when it was noted that some of their travel documents were forgeries; in fact, all of the documents were forged (some better than others). --Stephen V Cole

December 26; Opposition leaders in the Thai parliament launched (15 Dec) a three-day debate on a No Confidence motion that could topple their government. The focus of their initial attack was that the government had supported international terrorism when it agreed to supply an escape helicopter to five gunmen who had seized hostages at the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok last October. The opposition also condemned the government for economic policies designed to obtain a loan from the International Monetary Fund, policies that worked serious hardships on Thai citizens. --Stephen V Cole

December 23; Dubai has solved the case of a series of terrorist bomb attacks earlier this year, arresting Mohammed Radwan Hashem Abdullah, a Palestinian who holds Jordanian citizenship. He was arrested based on information provided by Syrian intelligence services. Police said that Abdullah had committed the crimes for blackmail and to destabilize the country, and has admitted his crimes under intense questioning. The bomb attacks set by Abdullah were the first in the UAE since it was established in 1971. (Dubai is one of the seven emirates in the UAE.) --Stephen V Cole

December 23; The second of a series of trials over the Spanish government's involvement in anti-Basque death squads began on 13 Dec. Seven officials face charges of kidnapping, torturing, and murdering two suspected Basque terrorists (Jose Antonio Lasa and Jose Ignacio Zabala). One of the seven accused is Rafael Vera, the former State Secretary for Security. Vera was sentenced to 10 years in prison during the first of the trials, along with former Interior Minister Jose Barrionuevo. Both were later pardoned. Another of the seven accused in this trial is Enrique Rodriguez Galindo, a former general of the Civil Guard. The two were kidnapped in France in 1983; their bodies were found in 1985. The government had formed secret anti-Basque units known as the GAL which conducted extra-legal actions to suppress the Basque insurgency. GAL units are charged with the murders of 28 Basque separatists. --Stephen V Cole

December 23; After receiving a warning from the US, Philippine security agencies are carefully monitoring the activities of local Moslem groups with suspected ties to international terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. The groups linked to bin Laden are thought to be supporting active terrorist cells planning imminent attacks. --Stephen V Cole

December 23; Behind the recent State Department warning that terrorist groups were plotting attacks for New Year's Eve was the arrest of several members of a suspected terrorist cell. They were arrested in an unidentified Middle Eastern country for plotting attacks on Americans. An investigation into their planned attacks and their support network is continuing. --Stephen V Cole

December 22; The US military reports that it is taking "appropriate actions" to prepare for expected terrorist attacks during the upcoming Ramadan, Christmas, Hanukah, and New Year's holidays. The US has warned that it will hold the Taliban government of Afghanistan responsible for any millennium terrorist attacks because of its support for Osama bin Laden. --Stephen V Cole