Nato forces dismantle terror ring with links to al-Qa'ida

War on terrorism: Bosnia
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The Independent Online

Nato claimed to have smashed a Bosnian-based terrorist ring which was linked directly to the al-Qa'ida network of Osama bin Laden.

In what may be an important breakthrough for anti-terrorist investigations, security forces are said to have linked one of several men arrested recently in Bosnia to al-Qa'ida.

Captain Daryl Morrell, spokesman for the Nato-led Stabilisation Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina, said: "We do believe that, thanks to excellent cooperation between Bosnian officials, S-For and Nato, the links in Bosnia-Herzegovina of the al-Qa'ida network have been disrupted."

He added: "We are not going to comment on any intelligence, specific threats or operational details associated with the actions that have been taken."

Nato has refused to confirm reports that terrorists operating in Bosnia had planned to target a large US facility called Eagle Base, near Tuzla, and a smaller installation, Camp Connor, near Srebrenica.

But S-For has said its soldiers, who are charged with ensuring the security of Nato personnel, detained four people on 25 September. One of these was Jordanian, one Egyptian and two were from Bosnia-Herzegovina. S-For said between 100,000 (£32,000) and 200,000 German marks in cash was seized during the operation.

The Bosnian Prime Minister, Zlatko Lagumdzija, said some 20 people were under scrutiny and 10 suspects of Arab origin had been deported.

Reports from Bosnia suggest that six Algerians are now under investigation by the Supreme Court, the only tribunal dealing with suspected terrorism cases. One of them, Bensayah Belkacem, was arrested on 8 October on the basis of foreign intelligence reports that he allegedly made telephone calls to an aide of Mr bin Laden.