- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

LONDON Investigations into the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States have uncovered a network of militant Islamist "sleepers" in major cities across Europe.
A month after the atrocity, investigators are coming to terms with the chilling prospect that as many as 300 operatives of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network may have been planted in Europe.
Members of this secret army many of whom do not know each other may have been in position for up to five years.
Security services now believe that the Sept. 11 attacks were planned in Europe and were only the first in a series of intended strikes against Western targets.
Police have identified sleepers and terror cells in London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Madrid, Paris, Rome, Hamburg and Oslo. Britain's National Criminal Intelligence Service is examining claims that the terrorists have assumed identities of dead persons.
"We call it The Day of the Jackal factor," said a spokesman, referring to the assassin in the Frederick Forsyth novel who adopted the identity of a dead person.
Secrecy is further maintained by a network of front companies and fake charities that channel funds and help cover tracks. One company at the center of police inquiries has used at least three false addresses.
The cells use the Internet, maintaining contact through encrypted messages. "We're talking about across-the-board infiltration of Europe," said a security contact.
Lotfi Raissi, 27, an Algerian pilot in British custody, is regarded by U.S. officials as a classic sleeper. He spoke English without an accent, wore Levis, drank Coca-Cola and watched satellite television. He kept his hair short and his goatee trimmed. His Western tastes and presentation were such that most acquaintances thought he was English.
Two weeks ago, Mr. Raissi, known to neighbors in England as "friendly, chatty and pleasant," was accused by the United States of conspiracy to commit mass murder. He is said to have given flying lessons to four of the 19 hijackers involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.
As many as 200 Britons are now thought to be the subject of investigations by Scotland Yard and the FBI. Of them, 40 are believed to have had contact with the hijackers consciously or inadvertently.
It has also been established that five of the hijackers used a series of safe houses in Britain in the two years leading up to Sept. 11.
French counterterrorist officers discovered a key clue last week. During a search of the apartment of Kamel Daoudi, 27, a computer student, officers uncovered a scribbled notebook apparently containing electronic decyphering codes.
This has convinced FBI officials that terrorist cells scattered around Europe have been using such codes to disguise their e-mail and to hide maps and instructions on sports and pornographic Web sites and in photographs. Mr. Daoudi was deported to France from England last year.
French police also have discovered plans to set up an Internet cafe in either Paris or London, which could have been used to reinforce links with al Qaeda. It is believed that the idea was that the heavy volume of online activity at a cybercafe would camouflage any suspicious e-mail traffic.
The cafe was to have played a crucial role in an attack on the American embassy in Paris, which was foiled when an Algerian, Djamel Beghal, 35, was arrested in Dubai with a false French passport in June. He has confessed to being a key figure in bin Laden's Europe operation.
British officials are looking into claims that he spent time visiting mosques in Leicester, England, and London to recruit volunteers. His testimony has led to arrests in Belgium, Holland and Spain.
Germany was heavily infiltrated by the hijackers. Mohamed Atta, believed to be the ringleader, was responsible for the German side of the operation before moving to the United States.
By 1999, Mr. Atta, through a German-based Islamic student group, had met up with fellow hijackers Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Samir Jarrah. In the United States, he reveled in his undercover persona and frequented strip clubs.
Most people who met him found him rude and humorless, but his links with al Qaeda were impeccable. In 1999, he visited a training camp in Afghanistan and met fellow Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, formerly the head of Egyptian Islamic Jihad and now bin Laden's deputy.
Mr. Al-Zawahiri has been accused of masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks, in addition to two 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa in which 224 persons died.

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