U.S. warns citizens in Lebanon of major Al Qaida attack

Monday, October 18, 2004

NICOSIA The United States has warned its nationals of a major Al Qaida attack in Lebanon.

A warden message issued by the U.S. embassy in Beirut warned Americans of the prospect of anr Islamic insurgency strike in Lebanon, Middle East Newsline reported. The embassy urged the U.S. community in Lebanon to stay away from shopping centers in Beirut.

The message did not elaborate on the danger of Americans in shopping malls.

"In light of recent events, U.S. embassy personnel are exercising greater caution with respect to visits to shopping malls in the Beirut area and recommend American citizens do the same," the warden message, dated Oct. 14, said.

One day later, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the embassy was referring to the arrest of an Al Qaida cell in Lebanon. The cell was led by Ahmed Miqati and was said to have been the first time Lebanon has detained part or all of an Al Qaida network.

Boucher also said the embassy was responding to the attempted assassination of former Lebanese Minister Marwan Hamade on Oct. 1. Hamade was regarded as an opponent of Syria's military presence in Lebanon.

"I think they [incidents] reflect a certain climate of violence that leads us to concern about areas where people might be congregating," Boucher said.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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