Shadow of terrorism loiters over Asian Games

SINGAPORE, Nov 21, 2006 (AFP) – Qatar is seen as an island of stability in a volatile region, but a suicide car bombing last year sent shockwaves through the nation and it is taking no chances with security at the Asian Games.

Organisers though are conscious that securiy should not overshadow what happens in the sporting arena.

“It is a sports event not a military event,” said Al Khulaifi.

“We want to ensure it will be secure but they (security personnel) will remain in the background.”

Systems similar to those deployed for the Athens Olympics and the World Cup in Germany are being used.

Forty-five countries from across the region will compete in 39 sports between December 1-15, including rogue states like North Korea and Iran, as well as Iraq for the first time.

The gas-rich state, a wealthy port city, is a close US ally and home to two US military bases that served as a coordination centre for the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The devastating bomb in March last year exploded outside a theatre near a British school in the capital Doha, killing one Briton and wounding 12 people.

It was claimed by a shadowy Islamist group calling itself the “Jund al-Sham Organization”, or Organization of S