CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Showdown Iraq: Europe on Edge
Aired November 12, 2002 - 12:25 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Concern also is mounting in the West over other terrorist attacks -- these potentially affecting Britain.
Our Sheila MacVicar is looking into that.
SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Europe is on edge; the security services and police on high alert. Coalition intelligence agencies are warning the threat of a new and massive attack is higher now than at any time since the attacks of September 11.
Paris, Monday, with sharp shooters on top of the Arc de Triomphe and random searches of the crowd below, France's president arrived a reported 15 minutes early to lay his wreath in memory of the war dead -- that just 24 hours after government ministers warned, France could be a target.
And in two days of public events in London, the police presence was evident, the state of alert obvious. On Monday night, Britain's prime minister said al Qaeda was active and looking to strike.
TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER OF ENGLAND: They are looking for ever more dramatic and devastating outrages to inflict upon the people they claim to be their enemy.
MACVICAR: Intelligence agencies say this statement made public in October from bin Laden's lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, specifically mentioning France and Germany increased concern. Attacks on the French oil tanker off Yemen, the Bali bomb, the U.S. Marines in Kuwait persuade them that al Qaeda is again operational.
In an interview published in "Le Figaro," the head of Interpol said -- quote -- Something worrying is going on." All intelligence experts agree al Qaeda is planning a major terrorist operation with simultaneous attacks.
And in an unusual interview with ZDF (ph) television, the head of the German foreign intelligence agency warned last week that the risk had reached, what he called, "a new dimension."
AUGUST HANNING, BND CHIEF (through translator): If you look at the timing of previous attacks, the danger is now so concrete, that we must reckon with a new attack of much larger dimensions.
MACVICAR: What kind of threat? Late last month, police officers from across Europe gathered in France to practice dealing with casualties from a poison gas attack.
In a document mistakenly released by Britain's home office last week, it warned of the possibility of a chemical or radiological dirty bomb attack.
(on camera): Government ministers and intelligence agency sources insist they have no specific information about either timing or a target, just the belief that an attack is coming, and that they need the public's help to try to stop it.
Sheila MacVicar, CNN, London.
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