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Thursday, June 22, 2000
Aussie agencies prepared to combat terrorism

 CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Security agencies are prepared to combat any terrorist threat at the Sydney Olympics, the Australian attorney general says.

 Daryl Williams refused to identify specific terrorist threats but said Thursday the Australian Security Intelligence Organization had increased its Olympic-related work significantly.

 "Last financial year, ASIO produced 46 threat assessments for the Games," he said. "This year ASIO has produced more than 300 Olympic threat assessments."

 ASIO has more than tripled the number of staff dedicated to Olympic security and is cooperating with other Australian federal and state agencies, including police and the defense forces, plus foreign organizations in joint security strategies.

 "This planning involves working with other countries and foreign intelligence agencies to ensure the Olympics are as safe as possible," Williams told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

 Williams' reassurances come a week after media reports citing U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation staff warning of Islamic terrorist threats during the Sept. 15-Oct. 1 games.

 The reports said the games were a top target of Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden, whose supporters already had been on reconnaissance in Australia.

 American authorities were said to have issued the alert to Australia after receiving new information about the activities of bin Laden and a network of loyal extremists throughout the Pacific.
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