San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Embassies Prepare for Possible Terrorism

THE governments of Honduras andEl Salvador tightened security at foreignembassies this week following intelligenceinformation that terrorist networkal-Qaeda and other Islamic extremistgroups are planning attacks, presumablyin response to the two countries’ supportfor the U.S.-led war on terrorism.Honduran Security Minister OscarAlvarez declared a national terror alertafter Honduran intelligence gatheredinformation that al-Qaeda was attemptingto recruit Hondurans to attack foreignembassies of the United States, GreatBritain, Spain and El Salvador, possibly inTegucigalpa or in other neighboringnations.El Salvador, meanwhile, requested“extra security” at its foreign embassiesaround the world, following an Aug. 15Internet publication by an extremistgroup calling itself “The MohamedAtta-Al-Qaeda Jihad Brigade,” warningEl Salvador it had 20 days to withdrawits troops from Iraq before the Islamicmilitants start “carrying the war to ElSalvador” (TT, Aug. 20).IN spite of the warnings, El Salvadorlast Sunday sent its third contingent of 380soldiers to the Iraqi city of Nayaf. ElSalvador represents the last remainingLatin American military brigade in Iraq,following the troop withdrawals byNicaragua, Honduras and the DominicanRepublic (TT, April 23).“We need to be responsible and takeactions in case the threats are real,” saidSalvadoran President Antonio Saca. “Ourdiplomatic offices throughout the worldhave asked the host countries for extrasecurity, to avoid any possible surprises.”Salvadoran opponents of the warmarched in San Salvador last Sunday,arguing that El Salvador had no businessinvolving itself in the “occupational war.”Honduras, which withdrew its troopsfrom Iraq last April, said it was declaringa “preventive national alert.”“Our intelligence services report thatal-Qaeda foreigners have made offers forHondurans to carry out sabotage both hereand abroad,” Alvarez said during a pressconference Sunday.HONDURAS’ first al-Qaeda scarecame several months ago when Alvarezrevealed that a top al-Qaeda suspect hadspent several days in Tegucigalpa lastMay, and reportedly was plotting to bombthe Panama Canal (TT, July 2).The potential al-Qaeda threat isexpected to be one of the main topics ofdiscussion during this weekend’s meetingof Central American Presidents in SanSalvador.Preety Shawl, press spokeswoman forthe U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua, said theUnited States took all threats against itsembassies and government seriously, butwould not comment on whether the UnitedStates was taking additional security measuresat its Central American embassies inresponse to the latest Internet threats.

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