Terror in Europe: A window opens

Posted in Terrorism | 11-Jun-04 | Author: Elaine Sciolino| Source: The New York Times

Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed is suspected in the train bombings in Madrid and other terrorist actions.
PARIS A suspected mastermind of the Madrid train bombings was planning another terrorist attack, but intelligence and law enforcement officials in Europe say they are still struggling to determine its nature and location.

Excerpts of confidential telephone conversations intercepted and analyzed by Italy's antiterrorism unit suggest that Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, the 32-year-old Egyptian arrested outside of Milan on Tuesday, may even have been plotting an attack on the vast Paris Metro system.

But France and Italy denied such claims on Thursday, saying there was no credible evidence to suggest that their territories were the target.

"Of course we have analyzed all available information concerning this matter," Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin of France told reporters during a visit to Germany. "I confirm that, in these exchanges, there are no indications about the preparation of possible attacks in Paris, on the Paris Metro or elsewhere."

The excerpts, contained in a 26-page confidential arrest warrant by the Milan prosecutor's office, offer an unusual window into the possible planning of an attack and the thinking of Rabei.

Rabei, also known as "Mohammad the Egyptian," has been identified by the Spanish authorities as the possible mastermind behind the Madrid terror attacks that left 191 people dead.

A former Egyptian Army explosives expert, he was well-connected with radical Islamic networks throughout Europe and had spent time in France, they said.

In one conversation on May 26, Rabe