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September 29, 2001

AS CHURCHES PRAY POLICE FORCES GATHER IN HUNGARY
Global fight against terrorism discussed in Budapest

By:  Stefan J. Bos,  Eastern Europe Correspondent of ASSIST
News Service

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (ANS) -- As Hungarian churchleaders are praying for future peace and those who died,  young NATO member Hungary is playing a key, police, role in America's war against terror. Hungary,  which only a decade ago was one of America's cold war enemies, hosted the 70th General Assembly meeting of the international criminal police organization Interpol,  to help the United States in its global fight against terror.
   
It has also opened its air space for possible U.S. war planes.  The 135 countries attending the meeting,  that ended Friday,  unanimously  condemned what they described as the "murderous attacks" perpetrated  against citizens of the U.S.  and over 80 countries.  They especially paid tribute to the memory of police  officials and rescue workers killed in the worst ever terrorist attacks against America. 

Interpol,  the world's largest police organization,  is now suggesting the day of these attacks, September 11,  should become an annual day of remembrance. But these events also underlined what some officials described as "the incompetence" of the international police organization in handling the terrorist challenges of  the new century.     

BIG BUSINESS

The financial markets may not like it and airline companies suffer, but for some this new war against terror is big business.   Zoltan Nagy,  the International Director of Hungary's Police,  told ASSIST News Service that Interpol "may have to spend millions of dollars" on internet security and related technologies to fight terrorism.  That's why at least 25 companies,  including IBM and Microsoft,  sponsored the meeting.

Nagy said that Interpol's poorer member states have been granted an amnesty from debts owed to Interpol to "readjust the burdens and to enable these nations to participate"  in what is expected to become a "very expensive" operation.   

In addition,  Interpol's Secretary-General Ronald Noble said that Interpol's 179 member states will have to dramatically increase cooperation, as  terrorists seem to change their tactics. "Obviously the world has learned  of the ability of these terrorists to target objects that would have been  unthinkable as targets for terrorism," Noble added.

"The ability to  infiltrate a country and to remain hidden for over a year, and the ability to have access to false identity documents to pretend to be people other  than they really were."

TERRORIST THREATS

"I think that gives you an idea what we as a  world and individual police forces need to focus on and concentrate on."  He warned the world's police forces to be alert 24 hours a day throughout the  year as, in his words, terrorists "were able to strike at any time."  I

Interpol has also created a September 11 task force to deal with terrorist  threats.  It has already posted a so-called red notice for the alleged right hand  man of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi exile believed to be behind the  terrorist attacks.

Officials say Interpol has instructed its 179 member  states, to trace Aiman Al Zawahri, who is said to be the leader of the Al Jihad terrorist group, which has close ties to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaida network. 

PRAYERS
 
But as police forces in Hungary trace down the criminals, Hungarian churches are still trying to provide counselling to the thousands of Americans living here.  Since the collapse of Communism,  the United States was among Hungary's largest investors,  as the country tried to restore democracy. 

"The tragedy was a time to remember.  There are several Americans in our church,  and although we were not directly affected,  we could feel the enormity of what happened," said reverend Canon Denis Moss,  Head of the St.  Margaret Anglican Church in an interview with The Budapest Sun newspaper. 

To remember the victims,  the Roman Catholic Church held a mass in Budapest's St.  Istvan Basilica,  named after Hungary's first King who established the country as a Christian state,  more than 1000 years ago.  Other churches and the Jewish community also planned similar expressions of support.

JEWISH COMMUNITY

"I can't find words,  I am shocked," Chief Rabbi Istvan Doman told The Budapest Sun.  However Hungarian ultra right wing Hungarian Justice and Life Party's President Istvan Csurka said last week that "the terrorist attacks on America were the consequence" of US policy.  The party,  which is even supported by some church leaders,  has been internationally criticized for its perceived anti-Semitic statements.

"There are only two politicians who spoke about the responsibility of the USA"  suggested former Foreign Minister and current Socialist Party President Laszlo Kovacs.  "These politicians are Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and Csurka."  Some Hungarians will argue that this is the price of Hungary's newly found freedom. 


Award winning Journalist Stefan J. Bos was born on the 19th of September 1967 in a small home in downtown Amsterdam, in the Netherlands not far from the typewriter of his father, who was (and still is) a Reporter and ghostwriter.   Already at a very young age Bos decided to become a journalist and finally arrived in the same country where his parents had smuggled Bibles during Communism:  Hungary.   Before joining ANS he worked since December 1988 as the Budapest-based Central and Eastern Europe Correspondent for several media including newspapers, Belgium and Dutch broadcasting networks and later also for The Voice of America, CBS-News, Deutsche Welle, National Public Radio and Vatican Radio. Bos has traveled extensively to cover wars and revolutions throughout the region and received the Annual Press Award of Merit from the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for his coverage about foreign policy affairs including Hungary's relationship with NATO and the European Union.   Bos is married to Agnes Bos Regossi, an ethnic Hungarian born in Ukraine, who works as a respected Journalist/Producer for the Russian services of the BBC, Radio France International and other networks.

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