NEWS

Bin Laden brother has Cyprus company

As the United States turned its sights toward Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect in Tuesday’s terror attacks on New York and Washington, a report in Cyprus yesterday claimed that the Saudi millionaire terrorist’s brother operated an offshore company in Cyprus. But Cypriot Public Order Minister Nikos Koshis said the brother was clean. In June, Cypriot security forces had stepped up protection of the island’s ports and airports, and increased policing at the US and Israeli embassies after being alerted to a possible attack by Saudi fugitive bin Laden’s terror network, the government had said. It said US intelligence sources had provided the information that prompted the action. At the time, US military in the region were put on the highest anti-terrorist alert, Threatcon Delta. Yesterday, the Cypriot newspaper Phileleftheros reported that security officials were again taking special precautions and had ordered strict surveillance on a small group of Afghans and Chechens living in Cyprus, and who had raised suspicions of terrorist connections in the past. The report said also that secret services were investigating the possibility that one of bin Laden’s brothers is in Cyprus and operating offshore companies based in Limassol and Saudi Arabia. He does own a company here, Koshis told reporters yesterday. But various services of foreign countries, not our own, say he is not involved in such activities, he said, referring to terrorism. He is clean. The man in question was not in Cyprus, Koshis said.