An anti-terrorism team bringing together the US, France and four other countries to fight al-Qaida has been based in Paris since 2003, it was reported. The reported mission, codenamed Alliance Base, was first divulged in a July 2005 story by the Washington Post. However, officials have never confirmed the operation’s existence.
But France-Info radio said yesterday it had access to documents that refer to the creation of the secret cell in the first half of 2003 – the height of US-French tensions over the Iraq war and the US war on terror. The radio station said the base was made up of secret agents from six countries: the US, with the CIA and the FBI represented; Britain, with MI5 and MI6 agents; Canada, Australia, Germany and France. The cell was funded in part by the CIA, it said. The French defence ministry and France’s main anti-terrorist agency would not comment on the report.
A former German parliamentary president has criticized the German police for being too lax when prosecuting neo-Nazis.
The criticism came after police let two neo-Nazis go after they had beaten a young student politician who was putting up campaign posters for the Social Democratic Party, the center-left party that makes up half of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition. Only after significant political pressure were they taken into custody.
The incident proved that the “police still does not act clearly and resolutely enough,” Wolfgang Thierse, a top Social Democrat and former parliamentary president, told the Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper.
Germany’s capital has recently seen several far-right motivated crimes amid Berlin’s ongoing regional election campaigns. Neo-Nazis have repeatedly attacked the information stands of other parties to intimidate voters, observers say.
Many adults in the United States are not willing to allow government agencies to regularly monitor their telephone calls and e-mails, according to a poll by CBS News. 59 per cent of respondents reject the idea.
Last December, U.S. president George W. Bush defended a secret domestic electronic surveillance program that includes the wiretapping of the telephone calls and e-mails of Americans suspected of having terrorist ties. The president’s remarks came in response to media reports that, since 2002, Bush has authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to operate this program without any judicial oversight.