Terrorism: March 7, 2002


The US suspects that the criminal "people smuggling networks" that take refugees from southwest Asia and deposit them on the northern coast of Australia are being used by al Qaeda terrorists to leave Afghanistan for less hostile climates. The Australians (who only last year deployed military forces and passed new laws to stop the flood of boat people landing on the northern coast) insist that no illegal vessels have reached the coast since last fall, at least none that they know about, but have increased their patrols. The use of smuggling networks by terrorists and intelligence agents is nothing new, and the networks appear to be taking al Qaeda members to the Philippines and Indonesia in preference to Australia.--Stephen V Cole


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