WASHINGTON ø FBI director Robert Mueller said his agency has broken up what he termed
terrorist cells sponsored by the Palestinian Hamas and the Iranian-sponsored
Hizbullah in the United States. He said both the recruitment and fundraising
arms of those two groups were identified and disrupted.
"We are still as active as we have been before in identifying those in
the United States who would be supporting Al Qaida or other terrorist
groups ø and groups, Hamas, Hizbullah, just to mention two ø identifying
them and interrupting their recruiting, their financing of terrorism when we
find them operating within the United States," Mueller said.
Addressing the State Department's Foreign Press Center on Tuesday, the
FBI director did not say whether the Hamas and Hizbullah cells were broken
up with the help of Israel. Mueller said FBI cooperation with Israel was
similar to that of other countries in the Middle East, Middle East Newsline reported.
"We have a relationship with our counterparts in Israel that is similar
to our relationship with our counterparts in Egypt or Saudi Arabia or
Pakistan or elsewhere in the Middle East," Mueller said. "We cooperate on
issues of terrorism."
Mueller said the United States has made significant inroads in denying
financing to Al Qaida and other groups deemed as terrorists. He said the
gains stem from increased cooperation by Middle East states, particularly
those who have endured Islamic insurgency attacks over the last two years.
"There are certain countries in which there have been terrorist
attacks," Mueller said. "And those terrorist attacks have led those
countries to increase their cooperation dramatically, not only on exchanging
information but most particularly, on addressing the financing of
"If you take the money away from terrorists, they cannot operate,"
Mueller added. "They cannot fund their operations. They are also often
families and the like, and if they don't have a job, then they have to be
funded by somebody or some organization. And so addressing the financing is
tremendously important to cut out the underpinnings of terrorism. And we
have seen substantial increased assistance in addressing the finance of
terrorism throughout the Middle East."
[On Wednesday, the British embassy in Damascus remained closed to the
public amid a security threat. The Foreign Office in London said British
authorities have received a "high threat" of what the office termed a
terrorist attack to Western and British interests in Syria.]
The United States has also eliminated Al Qaida's sanctuary in
Afghanistan as well as the organization's ability to train, communicate,
plan and organize, Mueller said. He said the U.S.-led coalition has arrested
and detained at least two-thirds of the Al Qaida's leadership.
Mueller said Al Qaida remains a lethal organization with cells
throughout the world. He said Al Qaida relies on affiliates or sympathizers
rather than agents.
"There are groups in many countries, cells who follow the preachings of
Al Qaida and UBL [Usama Bin Laden]," Mueller said. "And, yes, it is far more
difficult for them to operate; but nonetheless, there are a number of them
that do operate. They are a fragmented operation around the world about
which all of us must be concerned."