Counter-Terrorism: Hiding in the Haj

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January 5, 2006: The Islamic Haj for 2006 has just begun, and culminates on January 13th. All Moslems are expected to make this pilgrimage to the holy places in Saudi Arabia, or at least try to. About 2.5 million pilgrims expected this year. They've already been somewhat pre-screened, since the Saudis impose a quota based on a percent of Moslems living in each country. The Saudis have really tightened security for this year, but their security forces believe the chances of a terrorist attack using the Haj for cover, or during the various observances in Mecca and environs, is pretty low; it'd be really bad PR. But terrorists may use the Haj - as they seem to have done in the past - to provide cover for the movement of people, high level conferences, etc. It's not clear whether Western intel agencies are aware of this. As for a possible date for Islamic terrorists to reap some PR, January 31st is Islamic New Year's Day.

 


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