By LEYLA LINTON, Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS - A U.N. team investigating compliance with sanctions against al-Qaida and the Taliban predicted Tuesday that brutal attacks by Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s followers will escalate as they still have easy access to bombmaking materials and money
Terror attacks sponsored by al-Qaida and weapons of mass destruction are among the chief threats confronting the world, according to the team's report to a U.N. Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against al-Qaida and the Taliban.
Al-Qaida remains capable of mounting "devastating attacks" and sanctions are only having a limited effect on the group, which is still keen to acquire chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons, a U.N. report said.
It is only "a matter of time" before a successful attack occurs, the report said.
U.N. sanctions require all 191 U.N. member states to impose a travel ban and arms embargo against a list of those linked to Osama bin Laden's terror network and the former Afghan rulers and to freeze their financial assets. The list includes more than 430 individuals and groups.
The semiannual report, which will be considered by the full Security Council at a later stage, painted a grim picture of a terror group determined to spread its influence, constantly evolving to evade detection.
"The biggest fear we all have is terrorists getting hold of the means to cause a mass attack," said Richard Barrett, the team's coordinator. "Al-Qaida is a phenomenon that observes no borders. It is even harder to track now than it was a year or two ago when it had a more coherent structure and leadership."
He added that he did not think al-Qaida was likely to obtain an entire bomb, but rather components of weapons of mass destruction, for example, toxic or radioactive material.
Despite steps taken by U.N. member states to impose military-style weapon embargoes, attacks with small arms and explosives have continued, the team said.
It said measures should be taken to counter the threat of portable anti-aircraft missile systems and materials that can be turned into explosives.
Financial sanctions, such as an assets freeze, may be the most effective way to stop large-scale terrorist operations, and many countries had implemented banking reforms to stop terror groups from moving money around, the report said.
"But there are many unofficial ways available to circumvent these restrictions," it added.
The team also said a travel ban imposed on people listed as being members of the Taliban and al-Qaida or their associates should be tightened and it called on the United Nations (news - web sites) to work with Interpol on problem areas like forged travel documents.
No member state reported a violation of the ban for the three years the sanctions had been in force, but it was "difficult to believe" no al-Qaida or Taliban member had crossed a national border, the report said.
Barrett said he did not know where bin Laden was. But despite the lack of knowledge about the al-Qaida leader's whereabouts, the group he led continues to thrive.
"The team sees no let-up in the determination of al-Qaida, the Taliban and their associates to continue their campaign of terror," the report said, warning of "a further escalation in terms of brutality of attacks."
"Building on the appeal of its message, al-Qaida is actively seeking new areas in which to expand, both to recruit and to base itself. It aims to radicalize Muslim communities through propaganda and to create and exploit a sense of injustice whether political, social or economic," it added.
Barrett also said the terror group was using the conflict in Iraq (news - web sites) to boost its standing. "There is no doubt al-Qaida is using the situation in Iraq to promote themselves and recruit people," he said.
Link: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=s ... n_al_qaida
This only proves to me that invading Iraq and toppling Saddam's regime had nothing to do with Bush's so called "war on terror". We created a distraction for the real terrorists, like Osama Bin Laden, by going into Iraq. Also, ever since we invaded Iraq, we helped in making Iraq a haven for terrorists.