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Old 08-13-2003, 07:57 PM   #1
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Saudis find terror threat

This was on my ISP's headlines.

- Saudi security forces found plastic explosives, as well as written plans to attack a British Airways jetliner in Riyadh, during a raid on a suspected terrorist safe house there on Sunday, ABCNEWS has learned.

Sources said the notes describe the layout of the terminal at Riyadh's King Khalid International Airport, including where British Airways planes are parked. Saudi intelligence officials suspect the alleged terrorists planned to hijack a plane, or attack it with explosives while the jetliner was on the ground.

British Airways said today it has suspended flights to Saudi Arabia due to heightened security concerns. The U.S. State Department issued a warning to Americans about travel to the kingdom.

Passengers with Saudi Arabia on their itinerary were stranded at British Airways counters. Airline officials said it decided this morning its flights to Riyadh and Jeddah are no longer safe.

"The information we had was specifically about concerns the government had with regard to Saudi Arabia; that is why we took the action to suspend the services to the kingdom," said Geoff Want, British Airways director of safety and security.

Since May, Britain's Foreign Office has warned its citizens against any nonessential travel to Saudi Arabia, saying new attacks on Western interests there are likely.

Stepping Up the Fight

Since bomb attacks in Riyadh three months ago killed more than 30 people, the Saudi government has made a very public effort to show it is stepping up its anti-terror fight. And in recent days, security forces fought several gunbattles with suspected terrorists. Three policemen killed in those raids were buried today.

"Saudi Arabia is doing something but it is too little too late and one can understand this because there are elements within the Saudi government which are sympathetic to the radicals," said M.J. Gohel of the Asia-Pacific Foundation.

In May, British Airways suspended flights to Kenya for six weeks in response to a "credible threat." Months earlier, in November, terrorists attempted to shoot down an Israeli jet with shoulder-launched missiles there. The airline hasn't flown to Islamabad, Pakistan, since Sept. 11, 2001.

British Airways officials said the airline will not restart flights to Saudi Arabia until it is certain it's safe.
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