Press Review

The war against terrorism continues to fill front pages. Lidove noviny carries reports of the allies continued air-strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan, the death of four UN humanitarian workers, and the Taliban's pledge to pick out 2 million martyrs who would "fight to the death" in the holy war. Mlada fronta Dnes cites Bin Laden's spokesman as saying the Al Qaeda would "strike back".

There is plenty of speculation as to what the Al Qaeda might do. Mlada fronta Dnes reports that according to British sources it is probable that Bin Laden has some bacteriological and chemical weapons though it is not clear whether he has a sufficiently strong network to use them effectively.

With a growing number of people concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks in this part of the world the Czech Interior Ministry is said to be preparing a list of instructions on what do in case of a terrorist attack. According to Lidove noviny, the list should be ready within a fortnight at the latest and will appear on the Internet, be distributed in schools and institutions and sold as a supplement in some newspapers.

Another fervently discussed aspect of the war against terrorists is where their funding comes from. Hospodarske noviny has brought to light the possibility that some of the considerable profits from the drugs trade in the Czech Republic may have ended up in Al Qaeda's coffers. In this part of the world, drug trafficking and peddling are to a large extent in the hands of the Kosovo Albanian mafia.

The head of the Czech drug law enforcement squad Jiri Komorous says there are indications that this may indeed be the case - one of the indications being a sudden influx of very cheap heroin from a number of Arab states, including Afghanistan, just before the strikes were launched.

The alleged rift between the allies as to whether the war on terrorism should spread to other states has also received plenty of publicity. Although both British and US officials have done their best to present a united front commentators claim that the tone of their statements betrays differences on this crucial issue. The general verdict is that extending the terrorist hunt beyond Afghanistan's borders would almost certainly break up the broad anti-terrorist alliance and isolated military action could have serious consequences.

The Czechs themselves are still hesitant on this point, says Lidove noviny. Although Prime Minister Milos Zeman and the Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament Vaclav Klaus have said that it was clear from the outset that the war against terrorism could not stop at Afghanistan's borders, the Czech foreign minister Jan Kavan has issued more cautious statements, refusing to take a decisive stand on the matter and saying he could not rule out either option.

Slovo takes a look at how the Czechs have changed in the wake of the attacks. The changes listed are as follows: they are under greater stress, they show an interest in various forms of protection against biological and chemical warfare, they are buying more bandages and bottled water, they are canceling planned holiday trips to Arab countries, many are afraid of flying, restaurants and cinemas are half empty, their trust in politicians has risen and there is a marked increase in the number of people who want the army and the police to be given more state funding.