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US fears Gaddafi may lash out with terror attacks

The United States is bracing for possible Libyan-backed terrorist attacks,President Obama’s top counter-terrorism official said.

ERIC SCHMITT

The United States is bracing for possible Libyan-backed terrorist attacks,President Obama’s top counter-terrorism official said on Friday.

The official,John O Brennan,said the military attacks on civilians in recent days by Muammar Gaddafi,coupled with his track record as a sponsor of terrorism,had heightened worries within the administration as an international coalition threatens military action against Libya.

Asked if American officials feared whether Gaddafi could open a new terrorism front,Brennan said: “Gaddafi has the penchant to do things of a very concerning nature. We have to anticipate and be prepared for things he might try to do to flout the will of the international community.”

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Among the threats the United States is focussing on is Libya’s stockpile of deadly mustard gas,he said.

After renouncing its nascent nuclear weapons program in 2003,and a brief interlude as Washington’s partner in tackling al-Qaeda’s branch in North Africa,Libya has reverted to its status as a pariah government whose intelligence operatives blew up Pan Am Flight 103 above Scotland in 1988.

Brennan acknowledged that the political turmoil in the Middle East had weakened counter-terrorism cooperation among some Arab countries. But he said the US had taken unspecified steps to offset its losses.

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Among these steps may be more electronic eavesdropping,spy satellite coverage and more informants on the ground,independent intelligence specialists said.

“We’ve been able to weather some of these storms,but clearly there have been effects,” he said. “We need to ensure the cooperation that existed before with certain countries continues.”

Warren Christopher dies at 85

Warren Christopher,secretary of state in Bill Clinton’s first presidential term,died Friday night in Los Angeles. He was 85 and had been ill with kidney and bladder cancer.

First published on: 20-03-2011 at 01:40:23 am
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