Foreign terrorists active in Korea: NIS report
More than 70 foreign terror suspects have been captured in Korea in the last five years.
The National Intelligence Service began an antiterrorism crackdown in 2003, which has led to the capture of 74 people in 19 cases with ties to international terrorist networks.
The networks, including al-Qaida, are alleged to have whipped up anti-American sentiment, sought to gather intelligence on U.S. forces stationed here, and smuggled illicit drugs to bankroll their terrorist activities.
The data sowed a sense of alarm in Korea, once believed to be relatively free from terrorism.
The data was disclosed by Rep. Won Hye-young of the main opposition Democratic Party, who belongs to the National Assembly`s Intelligence Committee.
In October 2004, the agency captured and deported eight people who were allegedly linked to Jemaah Islamiah, a Southeast Asian militant Islamic organization dedicated to the establishment of an Islamic state in Southeast Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The eight people allegedly conspired to mount attacks on foreign embassies posted in Korea.
In November 2006, a migrant worker was nabbed and deported after he was found to have instigated Jihad through the internet. In January this year, the NIS caught and deported three people from a Southwest Asian country who were gathering information on U.S. forces here.
The NIS also found that some of the terrorists may have used Korea as a safe destination for the sale of illicit drugs as the nation has been regarded as relatively drug-free.
In May, the NIS captured four Middle Eastern men on charges of smuggling and trading drugs produced in Afghanistan. Drugs sold here were connected to the Taliban, the agency said.
In February last year, 10 members of Hawala, a huge network of money brokers primarily located in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, were captured for illegal foreign currency transactions.
Some experts warn that this shows that Korea has emerged as a safe haven for terrorists` money laundering.
Rep. Won called for tough anti-terrorism measures.
"It was revealed that international terrorist organizations have used Korea as a mid-point destination for their activities," he said.
"Given the Korea-U.S. alliance and our status in the international community, the possibility of terrorist attacks here in Korea is higher than at any other times."
By Song Sang-ho
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