According to some Western and Lebanese intelligence sources, al Qaeda has named veteran Abu Rush al-Miqati, 56, an old Middle East hand, to organize the attack. Lebanese interior minister Ahmad Fatfat reports 13 al Qaeda cells are operating in Lebanon and are being mustered for the attack.
The Italian defense minister Arturo Parisi, who visited Italian forces at Ras a Maroun in South Lebanon, reminded them that al Qaeda�s Ayman Zawahiri this week stated that UNIFIL forces in Lebanon faced attack as �enemies of Islam.�
Parisi said he was not surprised by al Qaeda�s message and warned the soldiers their mission could be �long, risky, costly and difficult.� But we are here, he said, to defend the security of Israel and strengthen Lebanon�s ability to control its territory. �We know the terrorists are not on our side.�
Italy has agreed to send up to 3,000 soldiers to Lebanon, making it the biggest contributor to the UN's force there. Over a thousand Italians are already deployed.
All UN troops in South Lebanon are on terrorist alert.
French sources report that a new message was posted on Islamist websites by Deputy al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, calling on a militant Algerian Islamist group to target France. In a taped recording Zawahiri called on the Algerian GSPC group to become "a bone in the throat of the American and French crusaders".
He also urged the GSPC - the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat - to sow fear "in the hearts of the traitors and the apostate sons of France" and to crush the "pillars of the Crusader alliance". Prime minister Dominique de Villepain advises treating this warning with the greatest seriousness. France must prepare for the worst, he said.