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Security tightened at hockey championship after Bin Laden’s death

CONCERNS about possible revenge by al-Qaeda following the death of its leader, Osama Bin Laden, have led to a tightening of security measures at the top event taking place in Slovakia’s cities of Bratislava and Košice – the Ice Hockey World Championship.

CONCERNS about possible revenge by al-Qaeda following the death of its leader, Osama Bin Laden, have led to a tightening of security measures at the top event taking place in Slovakia’s cities of Bratislava and Košice – the Ice Hockey World Championship.

The spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Gábor Grendel, said that Slovak police will more closely guard the US embassy in Bratislava as well as members of the US ice hockey team which is playing the qualification round of the tournament in Košice.

“Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic discussed the matter by telephone with US Ambassador Theodore Sedgwick, who welcomed the information,” Grendel said, as quoted by the TASR newswire, adding that the police will evaluate the situation as it develops and adjust measures to current needs.

Experts on terrorism do not expect that Slovakia is in danger of terrorist attacks. But General Andor Šándor, the former head of the Czech military intelligence service, did not rule out the possibility that a radicalised individual might attempt some type of action.

“There might be revenge on the part of those who will mourn the loss of their icon,” Šándor said, as quoted by the Sme daily.

Guantanamo prisoners in Slovakia

News of Bin Laden’s death reached Slovakia only a few days after the Daily Telegraph published several dispatches from the US Department of Defense about the prison in Guantanamo that had appeared as WikiLeaks documents. The three former Guantanamo prisoners who were transferred to Slovakia in 2010 were mentioned in the documents.

According to the WikiLeaks documents, two of the men currently holding permanent residence permits in Slovakia had links with terrorist organisations and one of them had been reported at one time to have served as Osama Bin Laden’s personal bodyguard, Sme reported.

That particular information was never confirmed or mentioned further in other leaked documents. US authorities decided to release the three men from Guantanamo last year.

Robert Kaliňák, who served as interior minister when Slovak authorities agreed to accept the three men, stated that the WikiLeaks information “gently said, doesn’t correspond with the truth”, Sme wrote. Sme also wrote that the current interior minister, Daniel Lipšic, reiterated that the former prisoners pose no security risk to Slovakia.

Reactions from Slovak officials

Slovakia’s highest government officials positively reacted to the news of Bin Laden’s death. The Foreign Affairs Ministry called his death a very important success in the fight against terrorism which it said helps fulfil efforts to strengthen global security.

“This news brings not only satisfaction and the feeling of justice to the families and close ones of the people who were victims of terrorist attacks planned and executed by al-Qaeda, but it also represents hope that the hateful campaign with the intention to spread hatred and confrontation among nations and civilisations will depart together with him,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry stated, adding that as the leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist network Bin Laden was responsible for most of the worst terrorist attacks, including the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič said in his reaction that justice had been done with the killing of the al-Qaeda leader but cautioned that the terrorist organisation lives on and Bin Laden's successor may turn out to be even more aggressive.

“The true victory will lie in destroying the al-Qaeda terrorist network around the world. This is what we must all continue to pursue,” Gašparovič said, as quoted by TASR.

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