Skip to comments.Rattled Czechs hand security over to the Pentagon
Posted on 11/16/2002 5:36:02 PM PST by Int
Rattled Czechs hand security over to the Pentagon
By Ian Traynor in Prague November 16 2002
The Czech President, Vaclav Havel, has signed into law a bill handing responsibility for his country's security to the Pentagon during the two-day NATO summit next week, amid mounting fears of terrorist attack and street violence.
Prague police have arrested five Czechs on suspicion of plotting sabotage during the first NATO meeting of its kind since the September11 attacks.
The unprecedented surrender of responsibility to a foreign power comes as normally circumspect European intelligence and law enforcement officials have issued a wave of stark warnings echoing United States fears that another terrorist attack may be on the way, including the possibility that al-Qaeda could employ chemical or other weapons of mass destruction against European targets.
The FBI on Thursday warned that this week's taped message from Osama bin Laden, intelligence reports and recent overseas strikes by al-Qaeda had raised the threat of "spectacular attacks" in the US.
"In selecting its next targets," the alert said, "sources suggest al-Qaeda may favour spectacular attacks that meet several criteria: high symbolic value, mass casualties, severe damage to the US economy, and maximum psychological trauma. The highest priority targets remain within the aviation, petroleum and nuclear sectors as well as significant national landmarks."
The first detachments of an estimated 250 US troops were expected in Prague yesterday to play a central role in ensuring security during the summit.
Under the special legislation, US troops and aircraft patrolling the area will be under US command, but the Czech Defence Minister has to give the green light for any US use of force.
Mr Havel cut short a holiday to sign the bill on Thursday after it was endorsed by the Czech Senate. The bill easily passed the lower house last week.
Thousands of anti-globalisation protesters turned central Prague into a battlefield during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank summit in the city two years ago. The Czech authorities and the Americans appear determined to prevent a repeat performance now, when tensions are greater.
"All intelligence experts are agreed that al-Qaeda is preparing a major terrorist operation, simultaneous attacks that would not target the United States alone but several countries at the same time," Ronald Noble, the head of Interpol, has told the French newspaper Le Figaro.
Hans-Josef Beth, head of Germany's international counter-terrorism unit, told a meeting of the German-Atlantic Society in Berlin last week that Abu Musab Zarqawi, an al-Qaeda leader trained in the use of toxins, could be planning an attack in Europe.
"Something big is in the air," Mr Beth said, noting that Zarqawi "has experience with poisonous chemicals and biological weapons".
Hmm... What's wrong with this picture?
Here's where that ICC immunity we got will come in handy when our boys mow down those commies.
"There are some things the world is better off not knowing." - Dick Cheney
I keep having these flashbacks to the Bruce Willis movie, '12 Monkeys'.
Yes, and it shows that when they really feel threatened, most of these countries will trust the US to protect them the most.