US rejects Al Qaeda report

Washington late on Thursday rejected a controversial US newspaper report which claimed the Al Qaeda extreme Islamist terrorist group and its affiliates operate in Greece, eliciting a statement of satisfaction from Athens. «The answer to the New York Times article was provided by the State Department itself,» government spokesman Christos Protopappas said. Protopappas had denounced the August 7 report at the time as «false and baseless.» The report also claimed US aviation safety officials had completed inspections at Eleftherios Venizelos – and other international airports – to determine its defensive capability against terrorists using shoulder-held missiles against airliners. On Thursday, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker sidestepped the second claim, saying he did not handle transportation safety issues. Later, the State Department issued a statement clarifying that «we have no information to substantiate press allegations that Al Qaeda is known to have a presence in Greece.» But it noted that Al Qaeda has «active cells throughout Europe.»