Paris: Mohamed Sifaoui has a price on his head and a book on the best-seller list.
Three years after he left his native Algeria, the Muslim journalist began to serendipitously infiltrate France's extremist Islamic circles last fall. Sifaoui spent four months with the followers of al Qaeda, praying with them and listening to them discuss attacks, secretly taping them.
The result was a book and two television documentaries: and a new life as a marked man.
The nation's Jewish communities are on high alert this week after the Bush administration upgraded the country to "orange alert" (the second-highest warning) in response to potential terrorist attacks by al Qaeda in the United States.
In New York, the Jewish Community Relations Council warned several thousand area synagogues, Jewish schools, community centers and hospitals to upgrade security for their buildings' ventilation, heating and air conditioning systems in case of a chemical or biological attack by the Islamic terrorists.
It was quiet this week in Piazza della Repubblica.
In the streets around Republic Square, the center of the growing Arab neighborhood in this city playing host to the Winter Olympics for two weeks, commerce reigned. In the winding alleys, in the warrens of an open-air market, in front of halal food stores and Arabic travel agencies, flocks of bundled-up tourists, some wearing distinctive blue-and-white Israeli warmup jackets, vied for space with TV crews.
During an academic conference in Boston last month, Sasha Toperich, a multilingual native of Bosnia-Herzegovina, presented a speech on recent political developments in the Balkans.
That was appropriate — Toperich is a diplomat.
Toperich also gave a concert during the two-day conference.
That, too, was appropriate — he’s a concert pianist.
Tuesday was quiet at 12 Eldridge St.
Around lunchtime, a few workers from the Lower East Side neighborhood opened the unlocked front gate at the Eldridge Street Synagogue to eat their meal sitting on the stairs. A group of tourists from Toronto who happened to walk down the street when a tour of the landmark synagogue was about to start opened an adjacent gate, also unlocked, to climb down a small set of stairs to check a notice posted on the door.