6th May 2001
Melanie Griffith is living a nightmare of fear after a terrorist group led by ruthless killers targeted her and her hubby Antonio Banderas with sinister death threats.
The deadly Basque separatist group ETA threatened to assassinate the actor and his family for condemning the murder of Banderas' politician friend - unless he apologizes on Spanish TV.
He's the second major star to be targeted by an international terror group in a month. Russell Crowe has been under police protection because of chilling threats against him.
The ordeal began for Banderas and Melanie when she received a frightening letter at their villa in Marbella, Spain, on March 8. She froze in terror when she read the chilling words from the terrorist group.
"The letter warned that Banderas and his family would die unless he withdrew remarks about ETA," says a national police inspector, who has been hunting down Basque terrorists for years.
Panic-stricken Melanie immediately grabbed her cell phone and called her hubby in Paris, where he was filming his new flick Femme Fatale with Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.
Her hands trembling with fear, she made another call to the police.
Guards were dispatched to the couple's villa, but Melanie, 43, raced to the airport in Malaga with her children to catch the next flight to Paris.
At the same time, Antonio, 40, was instructed to beef up his security in France and 10 armed guards were assigned to watch him around the clock.
When he met Melanie at the airport, he hugged her and whispered: "Be brave. They want me, not you. You've got nothing to fear," says a source.
But Antonio, knowing the bloody track record of the ruthless terrorists, wasn't taking any chances with his wife's safety.
"The couple were surrounded by guards," reveals the source. "They were then whisked off to a bullet-proof limo. The second they got out of the car, the bodyguards formed a human shield around them."
Armed guards sat by the door of their $1,500-a-night hotel suite at the Georges V Hotel. The bed was carefully positioned so that it couldn't be targeted by snipers from any neighbouring building, adds a security insider.
And the gun-toting guards did not let up for a second!
The Basque separatists are "at war" with both Spain and France over demands to govern land that borders the two countries. They have claimed almost 900 lives in a 16-year reign of terror.
Banderas' name was put on ETA's death list last August when he mourned at the funeral of politician Jose Maria Martin Carpena, a fearless critic of the terrorists gunned down during a summer of violence that rocked the nation.
"Banderas praised Carpena and condemned the killers," says a source in Spain. "In doing so, he put his own life on the line. These are brutal, heartless murders who will stop at nothing.
"But they are never in a rush to get their man.
One of their favourite ploys is to make famous figures pay large ransoms to be left alone.
"They want Antonio to go on national television in Spain and apologize for condemning them. If he doesn't, his life will not be worth a cent."
But another source doesn't see that happening.
"Banderas is a proud Spaniard and I don't think he's the type who'll give in to terrorists demanding an unconditional apology, no matter how dangerous they are!"
Paris anti-terrorist police chief, Didier Lafont told the GLOBE: "ETA is a very dangerous organisation who carry out their threats. You do not want to get on the wrong side of these people.
"Having a high-profile actor like Banderas publicly grovel for insulting them would give ETA the king of attention they crave."
Despite the strict security measures in Paris, The Mask of Zorro star pleaded with Melanie to return to Los Angeles - just to be sure promising her he would return within days to begin his promotional tour for his new children's flick Spy Kids.
And even though they are both reunited in L.A. now, the ordeal is far from over. "Melanie is scared to death," says a close pal. "They have stepped up their protection and aren't taking any chances."
During a recent appearance on the Today show, Antonio was flanked by security. And for good reason.
Just last week, the ETA claimed responsibility for a massive bomb blast near Barcelona, which killed detective Santos Santamaria, 33, who had gone to investigate a phone warning that they were going to blow up a stolen car packed with dynamite.
"Antonio is a brave guy," says an insider. "But he's up against some merciless killers."
-The National Enquirer
Prince William has confided to his closest family friends that he will never forgive Sophie Wessex for the insults she heaped on the memory of Princes Diana.
In one of the most vitrolic outbursts made by a senior royal in recent times he told one pal: "My mother never trusted her and told me never to trust her - and now we know she was right all along. People should know what she's like."
He has harboured a deep distrust of Sophie since the countess invited him to attend a polo tournament in Spain.
"He thought it was a nice gesture until he found one of her clients was involved in it," said a family friend. "After that, he never felt the same about her. One thing his mother couldn't abide was people trying to use her.
"Amongst the first things Diana said about Sophie was that she was on the make and out for all she could get. Diana always told her sons, 'Our lives are not about making ourselves more comfortable'."
Younger brother Prince Harry, 16, holidaying with dad Prince Charles at the Queen Mother's Scottish home Birkhall, is said to be even more distressed at Sophie's attack.
William confided: "My brother gets very distressed. The countess does nothing for the family herself. She has no right to talk about her (Diana)."
Prince William is particularly concerned about his brother and has asked his cousins Zara and Peter Philips, Princess Anne's children, to keep an eye on him. Charles's oldest son is acutely aware that while Sophie can say what she likes, his mother cannot answer.
Wills has harboured sense of foreboding for some a time. Indeed, he was so grim-faced in Edward's official wedding snaps in 1999 that the pictures were doctored.
Photographer and royal cousin Sir Geofrey Shakerely confirmed: "Prince Edward said he didn't think Prince William looked absolutely his best. So digitally we were able to put in another picture of Prince William where he is smiling and laughing." William, who is working on a wildlife conservation project in South Africa, first discovered the outline of what Sophie had said about his mother when he tuned into international CNN news on TV month. But Buckingham Palace had also ordered 100 copies of the News of the World, in which transcripts of her wildly indiscreet conversation with an undercover reporter she thought was a sheikh were published.
When 18- year-old Wills called home on a satellite phone for more information, the bulk of the 10-page report was e-mailed to his laptop. He has continued to receive e-mails and phone calls through the week from Zara and Peter Phillips - plus details of the official interview Sophie had given the News of the World the week before.
William is hurt at the potshots she took at Diana both on and off the record.
"She shouldn't have involved other people in something which was a disaster entirely of her making. The countess thinks a great deal of herself," he said.
An aide of Prince William told the News of the World: "To this day, William is waiting for an apology from her. She seems to have said sorry to every here-today and gone-tomorrow politician, but not to him, and not to his brother."
-News of The World
What Sophie said about DianaSophie: They thought, she's not going to be turning up every day in different outfits, opening children's homes.
Harkin (Her business partner ): Turning up at hospitals in the middle of the night with make-up on.
'A lot of things came out after Diana's death about the way she behaved.
I think everybody realised it takes two.
You'll get the fanatical Diana diehards who'll always blame the Prince of Wales for everything, we can't do much about that.'
'When we got engaged they were very keen to put me on the empty pedestal left by Diana.'
'I don't have armies of hairdressers and make-up artists at the drop of a hat.'
'When Diana died Tony Blair came out with this supposedly off-the-cuff
speech. It wasn't off-the-cuff, I know who wrote it.'
Movie tough guy Keanu Reeves is shattered over the violent car crash death of girlfriend Jennifer Syme, the mother of his stillborn baby.
And pals say the Matrix star is blaming himself for Syme's deadly downwards spiral into drugs and depression.
"Keanu is inconsolable," says a friend. "Jennifer's death has hit him hard."
Even though the loss of their baby at the end of 1999 had driven them apart, they had recently gotten back together.
His grief was apparent as a sombre Reeves helped carry Jennifer's coffin into the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills at her April 6 funeral. Syme's mom, Maria St. John, tried to console Keanu, who wept as he sat with the family in the front pew.
Reeves and Syme will be forever linked by the death of their baby girl Ava.
"It was a terrible tragedy - the baby was stillborn. Keanu and Jennifer could never seem to put the infant's death behind them," a source said.
"It was only recently - in the last few months actually - that they had reunited. They realised how much they loved each other. This time they were really going to try and make it work."
Syme, 29, a former assistant to director David Lynch, was driving without wearing her seat belt at 6.20 a.m. April 2 in L.A. when she lost control of her Cherokee. The Jeep smashed into three parked cars before it flipped, throwing Syme from the car.
"The collision resulted in the Cherokee overturning on the roadway, causing her to be partially ejected," says spokesman Hayley Prece of the LAPD.
"She was instantly killed. It is currently unknown if alcohol or drugs were a factor in the collision."
But two rolled-up $1 bills coated with a "white powdery substance" and the prescription anti-depressants Clonazepam and cyclobenzaprine were found in her car, according to an L.A. coroner spokesman.
"Jennifer was under doctors' care for depression following the stillbirth of her daughter last year," the spokesman adds.
It was the second accident Syme had had in eight days. On March 27, she was rear-ended and had been undergoing treatment for back pain.
When Reeves heard about the deadly wreck, the distraught actor called the L.A. coroner's office and identified himself as Syme's boyfriend. He said he wanted to identify the body. "But her mother had already done that," says a coroner's office source.
After the couple's separation, Reeves, 35, bought a house in L.A. for Syme and Ava to live in. But just before the January 2000 due date, an ultrasound test revealed that the baby had died in the womb.
"Keanu was by her side throughout the ordeal," says another source. "He held her close and they both cried."
The heartbroken couple buried the baby in an L.A. cemetery on January 4.
"Keanu was desolate after the baby was stillborn - and now this," says a friend.
"It's so sad and so unfair."
-The National Enquirer
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