- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 19, 2002

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) An al Qaeda group carried out last month's attack on a Tunisian synagogue that killed 19 persons and soon will strike at the United States, a pan-Arab newspaper yesterday quoted a man identified as an al Qaeda leader as saying.
The London-based Asharq al-Awsat said it interviewed Abdel Azeem al-Muhajir, whom it described as a "senior military leader" of the al Qaeda network, in the western Pakistani mountains near the border with Afghanistan. The newspaper did not say when the interview was conducted.
Mr. al-Muhajir told the paper that the April 11 truck-bombing of the Ghriba synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba "was carried out by brothers in the al Qaeda network." Fourteen of the 19 victims were German tourists.
Israeli, German and U.S. officials have said there are indications that the attack in Tunisia was linked to the al Qaeda network.
"News in the coming days will show the continuity, firmness, and determination of [al Qaeda] to develop itself," Mr. al-Muhajir said, according to Asharq al-Awsat.
Mr. al-Muhajir was quoted as saying that the al Qaeda network has regrouped since the Taliban's ouster by U.S.-backed forces in Afghanistan. Blaming the defeat on U.S. air power, he was quoted as saying al Qaeda and Taliban fighters have come a long way in their training for a "soon-expected fight with appropriate arms."
He did not elaborate on the weapons to be used but was quoted as saying al Qaeda fighters would give Americans "a more painful hit" than the Tunisian attack.
The newspaper also said Mr. al-Muhajir identified the truck driver who carried out the synagogue attack as Nizar Seif Eddin al-Tunisi, a name that has arisen before in connection with the blast, and said he was a member of the al Qaeda network. Seif Eddin al-Tunisi means "Sword of the Faith, the Tunisian."
A statement published last month in the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Quds said the synagogue attack was carried out by the Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Sites, which earlier claimed responsibility for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. U.S. investigators have long linked the Islamic Army to the al Qaeda network, which has been blamed for the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that killed about 3,000 people.


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