More light shed on terror threat against Czech Republic

Photo: CTK

More light was shed on the alleged terrorist threat against the Czech Republic on Tuesday, with claims that a Prague-based Albanian drug dealer was a crucial link in a chain of events that led to the current security scare. At the same time, excerpts from Pakistani leader General Musharraf's newly published diaries reveal that Al Qaeda planned to hijack a Czech passenger plane in 2002 to attack Heathrow Airport.

Photo: CTK
It is difficult to know for certain, but it does seem the massive security operation currently in place in Prague is the result of arrests made last week in Norway. Four people were arrested by the Norwegian police on September 19th, accused of planning attacks on the Israeli and US embassies in Oslo.

The Czech newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes claimed on Tuesday that one of them - a Norwegian citizen of Pakistani origin called Arfan Qadeer Bhatti - was in contact with an Albanian man by the name of Princ Dobrosi, who ran a Europe-wide drug business from Prague in the 1990s.

That certainly doesn't sound like "the most serious threat ever faced by the Czech Republic" as the Czech authorities are claiming, and there must be more to it than that for the authorities to have reacted in this way. Whether Dobrosi was somehow involved in a plot to attack Jewish targets in Prague remains a matter of pure speculation. Neither Norwegian or Czech intelligence services will comment on the claims.

Princ Dobrosi was arrested in 1993 in Norway and sentenced to fourteen years in prison. He escaped after three, resurfacing in Prague in 1999, where he was promptly rearrested and returned to Norway. Dobrosi was released from prison in 2005, and is known to have spent time in Prague last year - he has a Czech wife and two children living here. His present whereabouts are not known.

U.S. President George W. Bush and General Pervez Musharraf,  left,  answer questions on the war on terrorism,  in the the White House in Washington,  photo: CTK
In a separate development, the Pakistani leader General Parvez Musharraf has just released his memoirs. In them he says that in 2002, al Qaeda's chief strategist - Khalid Sheikh Mohammad - was planning to hijack passenger planes from six mostly former communist countries, including the Czech Republic, for an attack on Heathrow Airport.

General Musharraf says these countries and their national airlines were chosen for their perceived lax security. The plans came to light after Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was arrested in Pakistan. The information was passed on to the British authorities, and fortunately the attack on Heathrow never came to fruition.