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Pak rings Osama plot alarm

Islamabad, Aug. 11 (Reuters): Osama bin Laden has called for attacks on targets in the US and Britain, Pakistani intelligence sources said today, but it was not clear if his appeal was accompanied by more detailed orders.

“Osama has given the go ahead to target important places and personalities in the US, UK and Pakistan,” one Pakistani intelligence source said.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject, played down a report today in the Washington Times that a tape from bin Laden may surface soon that would act as a signal for planned attacks to be launched.

The newspaper, citing US intelligence officials, said al Qaida would target an American or foreign leader either within the US or abroad.

The sketch of a plot to target US President George W. Bush surfaced on an online magazine of al Qaida’s organisation in Saudi Arabia today.

A one-line answer to a Saut al-Jihad reader’s query said: “The plan you have drawn up to assassinate Bush is good but would need a lot of preparation.”

“Perhaps you can take part in it, if possible, and thanks,” the magazine told the reader — named only as Madad — without giving further details. The reader’s question was not published.

A West Asian security expert who reviewed the site said it would be rare for a known al Qaida figure to discuss a detailed plan over a website.

He said, however, the message may have some “operational value”, but using Bush’s name indicated if a plot were afoot, it was in an early stage.

“When it comes to impending operations, al Qaida either restricts itself to heavily encrypted correspondence or already has a localised word-of-mouth system in place with the terrorist cell in question, isolating it from outside communication,” said the expert, who asked not to be named.

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