- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 4, 2002

JERUSALEM Israeli intelligence had advance warning that terror groups were operating in Kenya but did not have information that they were planning to attack Israeli targets, an army intelligence chief said.
In Washington, meanwhile, U.S. officials said an Internet claim of responsibility attributed to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network was being treated as authentic. They also said that missiles aimed at a jetliner carrying Israelis had serial numbers similar to one involved in a failed attack on a U.S. military plane in Saudi Arabia in May.
Ten Kenyans, three Israelis and two or three suicide bombers were killed in the attack at the Paradise Hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, last week.
Minutes before the bombing, two missiles fired from shoulder-held launchers narrowly missed an Israeli-owned Boeing 757 that had just taken off and was headed to Tel Aviv with 271 persons aboard.
The claim of responsibility, posted Monday, was attributed to "The Political Office of al Qaeda Jihad Organization." The statement called Thursday's attacks a Ramadan greeting to the Palestinian people.
In Jerusalem, the chief of research for military intelligence told a parliamentary committee Monday that Israel did not have specific information like Germany and Australia did that attacks were being planned in Mombasa, Knesset spokesman Giora Pordes said yesterday.
Germany and Australia put out advisories in mid-November warning their citizens against visiting Mombasa, based on intelligence they had that terror groups were planning attacks on Western targets.
Asked by a legislator whether Israel had similar information, Mr. Pordes quoted Brig. Gen. Yossi Kupperwasser as saying: "No, there was no concrete and exact information. There was general information, but not regarding Israeli targets, rather on the attempt to carry out an attack in Kenya. Israel was never mentioned."
Israel's army chief, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, warned this week that bin Laden is sending instructions to Palestinian militants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Ha'aretz newspaper reported yesterday.
A dozen suspects are being held in Kenya, including two Somalis and at least six Pakistanis. Islamabad demanded access to the suspects yesterday, saying it wants to determine if any really are Pakistani. Kenya has rebuffed the request.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said the suspects arrested on immigration charges three days before the attacks had Pakistani passports supposedly issued in Mogadishu, Somalia, but Pakistan has not had a diplomatic mission in Mogadishu for 10 years.
Meanwhile, Ethiopian Airlines suspended service to Tel Aviv yesterday after Israel diverted a flight to a remote desert air base Sunday, then requested permission to visit the Addis Ababa airport for a security check.

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