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Friday, April 4, 2008       Free Headline Alerts

Terror alert in Kuwait: Americans warned of looming Al Qaida strike

WASHINGTON — Americans in Kuwait are bracing for an Al Qaida strike.

The State Department has issued a report that identified an Al Qaida threat in Kuwait, where 15,000 U.S. troops are stationed. The department said the U.S. embassy and the Kuwaiti government have shared information on the threat.

"The U.S. embassy and the GoK [government of Kuwait] have received threat information indicating official and private Americans may be targeted for terrorist attacks," the report, titled "Kuwait 2008 Crime & Safety Report," said. "The primary terrorist threat to U.S. personnel in Kuwait comes from individuals with links to Al Qaida and regional jihadist networks."

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The report said Al Qaida could select Western hotels and restaurants in the Gulf Cooperation Council state. Many of the facilities have been improving security amid the Al Qaida threat. "American citizens are advised to avoid apartment complexes where Americans or other Westerners are generally known to congregate in large numbers," the report, released on March 3, said. "We recommend that Americans maintain a low profile and vary routes and times for required travel to avoid predictable schedules." Kuwait has bolstered security amid the Al Qaida threat. The Interior Ministry has deployed large numbers of uniformed and plainclothes officers on the streets of major cities. The high police presence has generated another danger to Westerners in Kuwait. The report said non-Kuwaitis, who comprise two-thirds of the sheikdom's residents, have posed as police officers to isolate, assault and rob victims. "Of particular concern are an alarming number of crimes involving individuals impersonating police officers and then assaulting victims, who are primarily third-country nationals [TCNs] and more susceptible to intimidation," the report said. "The evolving modus operandi involves a male in plain clothes and an unmarked vehicle stopping a TCN, whether on foot or in a vehicle, asking for his ID, then demanding the person get into the impostor's vehicle without any explanation of his offense or their destination. The TCN is then driven to a deserted area and assaulted."

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