According to the Sunday Times of London, the war on terrorism will soon be extended to three new countries, with targets linked to al-Qaeda in Somalia, Sudan and Yemen at the top of the hit list. ?We have the wind at our backs and we don?t want to lose it,? says a senior Washington source.

The first targets could be hit as early as late January. Intelligence officers from both Britain and America have been gathering information about terrorists in order to find out if they have links with bin Laden. MI6, the British secret intelligence service, has played a leading role in this.

Yemen, where 17 American sailors died in a suicide bomb attack on the USS Cole at Aden last year, will be one of the first targets. Al-Qaeda supporters have established bases in the northern mountains, where they run training camps. The targets may include these camps, which were identified by eight British fundamentalists who were convicted in Yemen over their part in a terrorist campaign that including the kidnapping and killing of four tourists in 1998. As they did in Pakistan, American officials hope to get the co-operation of the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who will visit Washington this week.

In Sudan, where Bin Laden lived until 1996, the Bush administration is expected to search for followers of Hassan al-Turabi, a former parliamentary speaker now under house arrest. Al-Turabi, whose niece is married to Bin Laden, gave him sanctuary for five years.

Possible targets in Somalia include the Al-Itihaad group, which has been linked to bin Laden through Muhammad Atef, his deputy, who was killed by an American missile in Afghanistan.

A British Ministry of Defense spokesman says, ?We are focused on Afghanistan. However, this is part of a wider war on terror, wherever that may be, so it should not be a surprise to learn that military planning may be under way in other parts of the world. While we cannot confirm targets, the three countries mentioned have all been linked to terrorist activity.?

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