Thursday, March 17, 2005

Terrorists Train for Seaborne Attacks

MANILA, Philippines - Two of the most dangerous al-Qaida-linked groups in Southeast Asia are working together to train militants in scuba diving for seaborne terror attacks, according to the interrogation of a recently captured guerrilla.

The ominous development is outlined in a Philippine military report obtained Thursday by The Associated Press that also notes increasing collaboration among the Muslim militants in other areas, including financing and explosives, as extremists plot new ways to strike.

In the past year, the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah has given Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines at least $18,500 for explosives training alone, the report said.

The report comes a month after the U.S. Coast Guard (news - web sites) announced it is seeking to better protect the nation's ports from terrorist attacks by scuba divers by developing a sonar system that can distinguish human swimmers from dolphins.

Concerns about terrorist strikes by scuba divers were raised three years ago after the FBI (news - web sites) announced it was investigating whether al-Qaida operatives took scuba training to help blow up ships at anchor, power plants, bridges, depots or other waterfront targets.

Authorities fear scuba divers could target ships with more accuracy than a small explosive-laden boat like the one used in the USS Cole (news - web sites) blast that killed 17 sailors in 2000 in Yemen.

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