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El Salvador to Stand Up to Terrorists

August 07, 2004|From Associated Press

SAN SALVADOR — President Tony Saca said Friday that Salvadorans should not be frightened by a terrorist threat, but he urged them to be on the lookout for any "strange person who has entered the country."

A purported radical Islamic group named for Mohamed Atta, the leader of the Sept. 11 hijackers, posted a warning on the Internet threatening terrorist actions in El Salvador if the nation maintained troops in Iraq.

Saca said such threats would not deter him from sending a third unit this month, and he questioned the validity of the statement, saying at a news conference that Salvadorans should not be alarmed by "an anonymous communique that is not authentic."

Even so, he said, "it is important that people report any strange person who has entered the country through some blind spot so that we can capture him, if he exists. Today we don't have any information" of such people, "but the help of the citizens is important."

A third group of about 380 Salvadoran soldiers is scheduled to start a six-month deployment in the Iraqi city of Najaf on Aug. 17.

So far, there has been only sketchy evidence of terrorist activity in Central America.

In June, officials in neighboring Honduras said Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, who is wanted for questioning in terrorism cases, had been seen at an Internet cafe in the capital.

El Shukrijumah was believed to have entered Honduras illegally via Nicaragua or Panama. But since then, there has been no reported sign of him.

El Shukrijumah was among seven people on a list made public in May by the U.S. Justice Department. U.S. authorities have said they suspect links between El Shukrijumah and other terrorist suspects, including Jose Padilla, an American arrested in 2002.

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