The Czech Intelligence Service BIS has confirmed that Prague based Radio Free Europe regarded as a potential terror attack target was of great interest to Iraqi intelligence in past months. BIS chief Jiri Ruzek told newsmen on Friday that former Iraqi consul Ahmed Ibrahim Samir al-Anithe man who had contacts with Mohammend Atta, one of the suicide pilots who crashed into the World Trade Centre, -had been engaged in gathering information about Prague based Radio Free Europe. The Iraqi consul was expelled from the Czech Republic several months ago. Radio Free Europe, which is located in the very centre of Prague, operates under tight security since the September 11th terrorist attacks. Czech Foreign Ministry and US State Department officials have been considering moving the station to a safer location but no decision has been reached as yet.
US and Czech military officials are discussing the possible deployment of about 300 Czech soldiers, including a highly professional chemical warfare detection unit, to support anti-terrorist forces in Afghanistan. The Czech Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik told journalists on Friday that information about time, place and the form of cooperation was classified but that the public would be informed later. According to an army spokesman the 9th chemical warfare detection unit may be shipped to central Asia or put on alert in the Czech Republic for future deployment. If it is sent to Asia, the 160 member unit would be dispatched as part of a 300 member battalion, with about 150 regular Czech troops providing logistic and other services.
Amidst increased concern over a possible terrorist attack, Police President Jiri Kolar said on Friday that he has no evidence to suggest that an armed, anti tank rocket launcher found two weeks ago near a Prague airport runway may have been intended for an attack against an Israeli airliner. The allegations appeared in Friday's edition of the daily Pravo which cited "a well informed source". The paper noted that the weapon was discovered by local patrolmen just two days after a visit by the Israeli Foreign Minister Simon Perez. The police president described the article as "sheer speculation" and said that the police had no evidence which would support this theory.
Meanwhile, in response to a US government request all Czech pilots flying to the United States are to undergo security screening. If they refuse to comply with this request the Czech government is ready to order the screening.
The Czech Interior Ministry has announced that a team of experts is to be set up to conduct an in-depth investigation into Czech firms which trade in weapons and military equipment. The project will involve experts from the Czech Intelligence Service, the police and the country's interior, foreign affairs, trade and defense ministries. Interior Minister Stanislav Gross told newsmen on Friday that the decision was not linked to any specific incident but was a concerted effort to bring the trade in weapons under even stricter control. " We are convinced that there is room for improvement" Gross told newsmen.
Trade unions in the health sector have called a strike alert in protest of the government's decision to postpone a promised 8% wage increase by several months. Pushed to lower next year's proposed state budget deficit by the Lower House the Cabinet decided to postpone the promised wage increase by three months, thereby saving 1,5 billion Czech crowns. A meeting between health sector trade union leaders and Social Affairs minister Vladimir Spidla has been scheduled for November 6th. The Czech Health Ministry and the Medical Chamber have described the strike alert as premature.
President Havel was released from Prague's Military Hospital on Friday in improved health after getting treatment for chronic bronchitis. His personal physician doctor Ilya Kotik told reporters that after a week in hospital the President was feeling much better and was without a fever. Doctors have reportedly advised the President to rest at home for at least another week before resuming a normal schedule.
The weekend is expected to bring overcast skies and drizzle with day temps between 7 and 11 degs C. Nighttime lows between 5 and one degs. If you are headed for the mountains expect snow showers .
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