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First Attack by Al Qaeda in Japan?

First Attack by Al Qaeda in Japan?

Author: Alexis Debat and Maddy Sauer
Publication: ABC News
Date: February 12, 2007
URL: http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/02/first_attack_by.html

There was a scare today at a U.S. military base outside Tokyo when two small explosions occurred shortly after 11 p.m. there. While no one was injured, investigators are looking at the possibility that it was an attempted terrorist attack.

Intelligence reports in Japan and Pakistan suggest al Qaeda has established a small but powerful presence in Japan, which leads some wondering whether or not today's events are the first attempt at an attack by al Qaeda in Japan.

Pakistani intelligence sources tell ABC News they have had several reports that Pakistani militant organizations working with al Qaeda had established networks in Japan as far back as 1999.

A Pakistani intelligence source says these networks were set up following the direct orders of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the top al Qaeda leader who is now in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay. Mohammed reportedly had a "deep interest" in conducting operations inside Japan.

The source also tells ABC News around two dozen Pakistanis had been sent to Japan on student visas in the late 1990s to set up "sleeper cells," and those individuals had linked with operatives from the leading Indonesian terror group, Jemaah Islamiya.

The source said the mission of the sleeper cells was to draw up plans for terror attacks and that some of their plans were seriously considered by top al Qaeda leaders.

One potential plan involved planting several bombs at and around stadiums during the 2002 World Cup. The plan was never carried out, but the intelligence source says he believes these networks are still in place and are still "actively planning operations against U.S. and Western targets in Japan."

He added, "If these explosions [today] turn out to have been terrorist attacks, these networks are the first place to look."

Back in Tokyo, no arrests have been made, and the investigation is ongoing.


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