Clinton Warns of Terrorism Danger

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Osama Bin Laden has got to be loving this. President Clinton Wednesday warned Americans at home to be vigilant against possible terrorist attacks over the holidays, following earlier warnings by National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and a State Department travel advistory warning Americans abroad to stay away from crowds. Official concern has been heightened by last week's arrest of 13 suspected terrorists in Jordan and the capture of Algerian Ahmed Ressam at a U.S. border post at the weekend with bomb-making equipment in the trunk of his car. Ressam was indicted Wednesday on charges of attempting to smuggle explosives into the U.S., and pleaded not guilty.

The arrests in Jordan and at the Canadian border immediately sparked official speculation over the possible involvement of Bin Laden — and that's the best possible news for the Saudi terrorist financier accused of masterminding last year's bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa. Terrorism's success is measured not by territory captured or casualties inflicted, but by the extent to which it's able to terrorize and demoralize its target population. Forcing Americans to stay away from millennial celebrations around the world, and even in their own home towns, is a psychological victory for the terrorist mastermind.

In that light, Washington wouldn't be warning its citizens unless there was a credible threat. And, of course, there may be more than one. Law enforcement officials across America have been briefed on the danger of homegrown right-wing terrorists acting out apocalyptic fantasies to coincide with the millennium. After all, the Oklahoma City attack had the U.S. media running profiles of the usual suspects from the Middle East in the hours before the arrest of Tim McVeigh.