- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 16, 2003

NEW YORK, March 16 (UPI) — U.S. intelligence agencies have warned that Hamas, the militant Palestinian group, might attack U.S. citizens and facilities if a war with Iraq begins, according to a report from Time magazine.

In an article in its March 24 edition, the magazine says: "CIA and FBI officials concur that Hamas — which has so far limited its attacks to Israeli targets — is most likely to attempt violence on U.S. bases or in American gathering places in Israel and the Middle East."

It quotes an unidentified U.S. official as saying, "you can't rule out their doing something in this country."

Time says concern was "heightened" after Sheik Ahmed Yassin, Hamas' spiritual leader, last month denounced the Bush administration's threats to disarm Iraq by force as "a new crusade against the Muslim nation."

It says that Yassin's call for Muslims worldwide to "strike Western interests … everywhere" marked a sharp departure from his movement's long-held belief that attacks on Americans would undercut Palestinian hopes of keeping U.S. pressure on Israel.

FBI agents suspect there are Hamas sympathizers among the 1,000 Islamic extremists they are monitoring in the United States, according to the report, and "FBI behavioral scientists are searching for psychological cues that someone could become a suicide bomber.

"Additionally, federal and local law-enforcement officers are closely tracking thefts of explosives, such as those used in Hamas backpack bombs, and unusual sales of fertilizer, chemicals and fuel that could be used to make a truck bomb."

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