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5 in Bahrain Charged With Terrorism

February 16, 2003|From Associated Press

MANAMA, Bahrain — Bahraini authorities said Saturday that they broke up a terrorist ring suspected of planning attacks in the country, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

Five Bahraini men ages 31 to 41 were arrested on charges of plotting terrorist acts against the island's "national interests and endangering the lives of innocent people," the official Bahrain News Agency reported.

Police also seized weapons and ammunition the detainees were allegedly planning to use "for carrying out acts of terrorism targeting the security of the country and the people," the agency said.

The agency gave no specific information on what might have been the target of an attack. Bahraini officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the arrests -- the first terrorism-related detentions in this close U.S. ally since Sept. 11, 2001 -- were made during the last two days.

It was not clear whether the men were suspected of being part of a larger terrorist network.

With anti-American sentiment growing in the Persian Gulf region over a threatened U.S. war on Iraq, military planners are alert to the possibility of attacks such as the 2000 suicide bombing of the U.S. destroyer Cole in Yemen, in which 17 U.S. sailors died.

Last month, Navy officials deployed high-speed patrol boats to the gulf to protect U.S. military ships, oil tankers and command vessels.

About 4,000 American military personnel are in Bahrain.

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