'Intel agencies racing to find terrorists in Europe'

Over 20 al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists missing from Palestinian refugee camp, 'Guardian' reports; expert says they're prepared for martyrdom.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
December 26, 2010 18:21
1 minute read.
German police [illustrative]

German police 311 AP. (photo credit: Associated Press)

European and Middle Eastern intelligence agencies are racing to locate more than twenty Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists who have disappeared from a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, The Guardian reported.

The terrorists are thought to have headed to Europe via Syria, Turkey and the Balkans, according to the report.

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A PLO official confirmed to the Guardian that the terrorists had been hiding in Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp, Ain el-Hilweh, for several years. He said that they came there because the Lebanese army is not allowed to enter Palestinian refugee camps, long making them a refuge for militants and terrorists.

Lebanese intelligence officials described the men, who have gone off the grid, as "extremely dangerous." They are considered "freelance fighters and jihadists" that have until recently limited the scope of their operations to within Lebanon, according to the report.

Many of the missing suspects are presumed to have fought in Iraq, where they gained significant combat experience. Additionally, experts said "it's safe to assume that many of them are prepared to undertake 'martyrdom' operations," raising fears of suicide attacks in Europe, The Guardian reported.

Just over a week ago, British and German officials said no new or specific terror plots against Europe have emerged for the holiday season, contradicting earlier reports from US security experts.

A suicide bomber blew himself up a week before in Sweden, and Iraqi officials said that captured insurgents have claimed the Stockholm bombing was part of attacks being planned by al-Qaida against the US and Europe during the Christmas season.

Associated Press contributed to this report.


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