Australia: A Plot for Airplane Terror Attacks

A man arrested in India appeared to have planned terrorist attacks in Australia along the lines of the September 11 assaults in the United States, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said today. Mr Downer said Australian authorities were aware a man arrested in Bombay last month had confessed to planning suicide attacks in Australia and Britain. "He has done pilot training apparently in Australia and in Britain so presumably the type of suicide attack he was contemplating was using aircraft," he told ABC radio. "But whether of course he would have ever gone ahead it, with one doesn't know, but the Indian authorities are taking it seriously." The man was arrested on suspicion of being linked with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, the target of Australian, US and British troops on the ground in Afghanistan. Mr Downer said his nationality was not known. A spokeswoman for Attorney-General Daryl Williams said Australian law enforcement and security agencies were trying to work out the truth of his claims about the planned terrorist attacks. "The Australian authorities have been working with Indian and other authorities to look into those claims but at this stage the veracity of the claims is still being investigated," she said. She could not comment on whether the suspect was linked to a man who inquired about using Qantas' flight training facility in Melbourne before the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US. But Mr Downer said there was no reason to think his claims were a hoax. "I gather he confessed to planning suicide attacks in Australia or in Britain or one or two other countries, so it does underline the point that we need to take our security very seriously," he said. "We understand that this wasn't a hoax." However, there was no intelligence to suggest any specific threats to Australia. "Our intelligence hasn't really changed in recent times," he said. "It is our view that we have to be pretty vigilant with our security and everybody will have noticed the tighter security there is now at airports. "We don't have any information that there are new threats to Australia or Australian aircraft or specific Australian targets." Indian Home Minister LK Advani told a meeting of business and industry leaders in New Delhi that the arrested man had intended to organise suicide attacks in Britain, Australia and India after September 11. "We arrested this person about a month ago in Bombay and he made some very shocking confessions," Mr Advani said. "The al-Qaeda had plans to not only attack the United States but also for similar attacks on Britain, Australia and the Indian parliament." Mr Advani said the arrested man said he had learned to fly planes in Australia and in Britain. "We have been able to verify the information and confirm it," he said. "So there is truth to what he has said." not want bloodshed in Kandahar and want to solve the problem peacefully," an unnamed Taliban spokesman was quoted by AIP as saying.

Henry L. Marconi PRAVDA.Ru Sydney