'Business as usual' at paper targeted by letter bombs
January 14, 1997
Web posted at: 5:15 p.m. EST (2215 GMT)
From Correspondent Margaret Lowrie
LONDON (CNN) -- For the London staff of Al-Hayat, it was back
to desks and daily routines Tuesday, a day after four letter
bombs were received.
"We are continuing business as usual in Al-Hayat, as simple
as that," said managing editor Khairallah Khairallah. "No
threat, nothing can make us turn our back to our duties. I
lived (through) much more difficult moments in Beirut."
The first letter bomb exploded in the hands of a security
guard, and police detonated three other suspect devices.
The scene was mirrored across the Atlantic in New York, where
four more letter bombs, addressed to Al-Hayat's United
Nations office, were found Monday.
Experts say one aim could be to intimidate the staff at what
is one of the most respected Arabic language papers in the
"Al-Hayat is a very successful newspaper. It is very
influential in shaping the viewpoints of elites and attentive
public, not necessarily the general public," said Ibrahim
Karawan of the International Institute of Strategic Studies.
"It enjoys a relative freedom of expression, compared to
other Arab newspapers."
Monday's letter bombs apparently fit the pattern of similar
devices recently received in the United States and at the
paper's Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, office.
The U.S. letter bombs were sent to Al-Hayat's Washington
office and to a Kansas penitentiary, where three convicted
terrorists in the World Trade Center bombing are imprisoned.
Authorities are investigating whether there is a link to
those involved in the 1993 bombing.
The letter bombs sent to the U.S. were postmarked Alexandria,
Egypt. Sources say the London ones also had Egyptian stamps
and an Alexandria postmark.
But Egyptian officials maintain the bombs were not sent from
Egypt. The Cairo daily Al-Ahram ran a prominent story Tuesday
purporting to show it is not possible to send an explosive
device through the Egyptian mail.
"We had no definite answer for this," said Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak. "But I don't think that these letters have
been sent from Alexandria. It is easy to imitate the stamps."
Other observers may have their own suspicions about an
extremist Egyptian link, but Al-Hayat insists it does not
know who is behind the letter bombs.
Those who work at Al-Hayat are still puzzled about the motive
behind the attacks. The newspaper has received no warnings,
no threats, no demands and no legitimate claims of
responsibility since the letter bombing campaign began.
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