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Al-Qaeda terror plot uncovered in Europe
London, Sept 29 (Agencies):
Published on 29 Sep. 2010 10:50 PM IST
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France has recently beefed up security outside its national landmarks Western intelligence sources say they have uncovered a plot by al-Qaeda to carry out co-ordinated attacks in the UK, France and Germany. It is understood the plan involves small teams of militants seizing hostages and murdering them, similar to the attacks in Mumbai in 2008.
Intelligence officials believe the plot was inspired by the al-Qaeda leadership in the remote tribal areas of Pakistan.
Sources say recent US drone attacks in the region have targeted the planners.
The BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner said the plot was believed to have moved from the aspirational stage to actual planning.
Western security agencies may have been hoping to keep the matter out of the public realm for longer so criminal evidence could be gathered, our correspondent added, but initial details were leaked to the US media.
However, in the UK, no imminent arrests are expected, and the national threat level remains at its current level of severe.
In an effort to foil the attacks, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has ramped up missile strikes from unmanned drones against militants in the Pakistani tribal regions, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing security officials.
The US has carried out at least 20 drone strikes so far this month in Pakistan’s tribal areas - the highest monthly total for the past six years, US media reported.
Earlier this week, reports from the area said a senior al-Qaeda leader - Sheikh Fateh al-Masri - had been killed in a drone attack in North Waziristan.
Security expert and former CIA officer Robert Baer told the BBC’s World Today programme he believed the the latest threat to the West may be linked to the US-led attacks on Haqqani insurgents - allies of the Taliban in Waziristan.
“I think what we are facing here is a reprisal from the Haqqani network against the United States and Britain for the stepped-up aerial campaign in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
“You have to look at the way these people look at the world. It is very tribal. They think they are in a feud with the West. They don’t understand why they are under attack and they intend to take revenge.”
Last week, the US Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano warned there was “increased activity by a more diverse set of groups and a more diverse set of threats... directed at the West generally”.
She is due to meet her European counterparts at a UN aviation security meeting in Montreal this week. In the UK, the national threat remains at severe, where it has been since January, meaning a terrorist attack is thought highly likely.
But government officials say there are no plans to raise it to the highest level of critical, and they do not expect to see an imminent wave of arrests. France and Germany are both on a heightened state of security alert. Germany said on Wednesday that it was aware of a “long-term” aim by al-Qaeda to attack Western targets, but it had no evidence of any “concrete” plans.
It said its security alert level was unchanged.
In the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, 10 gunmen went on a three-day rampage, killing 166 people and injuring more than 300.
Al Qaeda leader killed in Pak

Islamabad, Sept 29 (IANS): A senior Al Qaeda leader has reportedly been killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, security officials Wednesday said. Villagers, however, said they saw the militant leader “roaming around with his men” in the area.
The reports of the death of Sheikh Al Fateh, regional chief of Al Qaeda, came amid a sudden upsurge in drone strikes by the US in the troubled area alongside the northwestern border. Security officials said “a senior Al Qaeda commander for Afghanistan and Pakistan was taken out in an air strike in North Waziristan a few days ago”.
“There have been reports that Sheikh Al Raziq, also known as Sheikh Al Fateh Al Misri, has been killed with his three associates in Doga Macha Madakhel area Saturday,” they said. However, local villagers contradicted the report vehemently, saying “he was seen roaming around with his men” Monday.
Al Fateh hailed from Yemen and had taken over the regional leadership of Al Qaeda from Mustapha Abu Yazid Al Misri, who was killed in a similar drone strike in May this year. The month of September has witnessed 21 drone attacks in Waziristan.
The northwestern province of Pakistan and the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan has become a battleground for the war against terror for almost eight years now.

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