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Terrorism Alert Heightened Ahead of G20 Summit

Posted March. 22, 2010 05:42,   


Prosecutors are getting busier ahead of Seoul’s hosting of the Group of 20 summit in November amid increasing signs of terrorism.

Some 70 foreigners have been detained or deported from Korea since 2003 due to possible involvement with international terrorist groups. A series of incidents allegedly linked to terrorist groups, including the Taliban, have also spurred officials into action.

For instance, a Pakistani national was detained for using a counterfeit passport. Known to have hailed from Swat, a northwestern border area nicknamed “Talibanistan” because it is under Taliban rule, he told police that he came to Korea under orders to survey a U.S. Forces Korea base.

In the process of the investigation, police found signs indicating that the man contacted those working as imams in Daegu who are suspected to be members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which is linked to al Qaeda.

The Pakistani later changed his statement, however, claiming he told lies because the National Intelligence Service was spying on him. Last week, he was indicted for an immigration violation but the charge of espionage was dropped.

Prosecutors also announced six cases of smuggling out acetic anhydride, which is used to refine heroin. The destinations of the cargo were Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries where terrorist activities are brisk.

Among those involved were foreigners and five of seven people who became naturalized Koreans from either Pakistan or Afghanistan.

“No direct evidence has been found proving their links with international terrorist groups, but investigative authorities in their home countries are certain that they are Taliban members,” said a prosecution official.

Since late last year, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office has been seeking to establish cooperation channels with law enforcement and intelligence agencies of other countries, including the U.S., Japan and European nations.

In addition, a new task force in Korea will study terrorist crimes and make a manual for investigation.

In the same vein, Prosecutor General Kim Joon-gyu proposed the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Convention, an organization for judicial cooperation in the region, at an executive committee meeting of the International Association of Prosecutors. If the convention is established, member countries can quickly respond to international terrorism via a “common arrest warrant” system, which will have the same effect in member nations.

The Financial Action Task Force said in a report written in June last year that while no case of terrorist financing or attempts at terrorism has been found in Korea, some 70 people have been detained or expelled from the country on suspicion of involvement with international terrorist groups.

The report also warned of increased attempts to transfer money or commodities to Korea because of the perception that the country is relatively safe from terrorism.