Terrorism: December 22, 2003


Apparently, Syria has arrested several couriers linked to Al Qaeda. One report gave the number arrested during the week of December 13-19 as six couriers another gave the figure as eight. All of the arrested men were identified as Arabs. The men were carrying intelligence reports and a total of $23.5 million. A US government report said that Syria had not given US counter-terror experts access to the couriers. The large stash of cash suggests these couriers are part of a major terror financing network. If they are not linked to Al Qaeda, they could be tied to the Baathist fighters in Iraq, meaning the cash is part of Saddams hidden funds. In fact, one US spokesman suggested the Baathist connection was likely. If the couriers are in cahoots with Al Qaeda, a twenty million dollar sting would be a big blow to the organizations funding operations in Syria and Iraq. Analysts estimate Al Qaeda has an operational budget measured in the tens of millions. At the political level, the arrests indicate Syria knows the US isnt going to put up with the Assad dictatorships latest policy of talking counter-terror cooperation while continuing to harbor terrorist cells. The US wants action. Nabbing Al Qaeda couriers is action. Time will tell if the arrest reports are accurate. (Austin Bay)


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