- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Suicide bombers similar to those who have attacked Israel eventually will attack public sites in the United States, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said yesterday.
"I think we will see that in the future. I think it's inevitable," Mr. Mueller said in response to a question posed during a speech to the National Association of District Attorneys in Alexandria. "I wish I could be more optimistic."
Mr. Mueller, sworn in as FBI director just a week before the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, said there was little that federal law-enforcement authorities could do to stop walk-in suicide bombers who target restaurants, bus stops or other public places.
The director also predicted that Americans would experience "another terrorist attack," although he did not elaborate.
"We will not be able to stop it. It's something we all live with," he said, adding that law enforcement has a difficult time infiltrating the inner circles of terrorist groups because informants would find it hard to fake the needed level of fanaticism.
There have been about 80 suicide bombings in Israel since Palestinians began their latest intifada in September 2000. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a group belonging to the Palestinian Authority's dominant Fatah organization founded and headed by Yasser Arafat, has claimed responsibility for the majority of suicide bombings and "suicide shootings" in recent months.
During the weekend, the FBI warned that terrorists aligned with Osama bin Laden could target U.S. apartment buildings, and they told Florida authorities about a general threat to the water supply in the Orlando area.
Last month, the FBI alerted 1,200 Northeast banks of the threat of terrorist attacks and warned local law enforcement about unconfirmed reports that terrorists were planning attacks on supermarkets or shopping centers.
In addition to the Mueller warnings, Vice President Richard B. Cheney said Sunday that a new attack on the United States was "almost certain" as U.S. intelligence agents continue to monitor signals suggesting that a new al Qaeda strike is in the works.
Defense Department spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said that despite major military successes against al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the terrorist group and other organizations remain a threat.
"We have always said this is about more than one person one network and certainly is about more than Afghanistan," Mrs. Clarke said.
Sen. Bob Graham, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, yesterday said Islamic groups such as Lebanon's Hezbollah and Egypt's Islamic Jihad also could be planning attacks in the United States and may be more able to do so than bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
"Our enemy is not al Qaeda alone," the Florida Democrat said on NBC's "Today" show, referring to the terrorist group responsible for the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed about 3,000 people.
"There are several international terrorist groups which have abilities in some cases greater abilities than al Qaeda and a similar desire to attack the United States," he said, making specific reference to Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.
Mr. Graham later said in a CNN interview that he was "almost certain" another attack would take place within three to five years.
Hezbollah is a radical group dedicated to the creation of an Iranian-style Islamic republic in Lebanon and the removal of all non-Islamic influences from the area. It is strongly anti-Western and anti-Israel and is closely allied with and often directed by Iran.
With several thousand supporters and a few hundred terrorist operatives, it is suspected of involvement in numerous anti-U.S. attacks, including the suicide truck bombing of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in October 1983 and the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut in September 1984.
The group also attacked the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1992 and is a suspect in the 1994 bombing of the Israeli cultural center in Buenos Aires.
The Islamic Jihad is an extremist group active since the late 1970s and has been a close partner of al Qaeda. Its primary goals are to overthrow the Egyptian government and replace it with an Islamic state, and to attack U.S. and Israeli interests in Egypt and abroad.
The organization specializes in armed attacks against high-level Egyptian government personnel, including Cabinet ministers, and car bombings of official U.S. and Egyptian facilities. The group was responsible for the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
The Jihad has not conducted an attack inside Egypt since 1993 and has never targeted foreign tourists there, but the organization was responsible for bombing the Egyptian Embassy in Pakistan in 1995. In 1998, an attack against the U.S. Embassy in Albania was thwarted. The Egyptian government says both Iran and bin Laden support the group.
A 1999 report for the CIA that said bin Laden's network might attack the United States by crashing an aircraft into the Pentagon, the CIA or the White House also named Hezbollah as a group that could carry out a U.S. attack.


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