Intelligence agencies disrupt plans for multiple attacks on cities in Britain, France and Germany by group of militants based in Pakistan thought to be linked to al-Qaeda, Sky News reports
Intelligence agencies have disrupted plans for multiple attacks on European cities by a group thought to be linked to al-Qaeda, Britain's Sky News said on Tuesday.
Militants based in Pakistan were planning simultaneous strikes in London, as well as cities in France and Germany, the channel's foreign affairs editor, Tim Marshall, said.
US counter-terrorism agencies are poring over intelligence reports suggesting a major attack plot is currently in the works against unspecified targets in Western Europe or possibly the United States, they said.
Four US security officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said that initial intelligence reports about the threat first surfaced roughly two weeks ago, around the time of the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Sky News' Marshall said an increase in drone attacks in Pakistan in the past few weeks was linked to attempts by Western powers to disrupt the plot, which was at an "advanced but not imminent stage."
British security sources declined to comment on the Sky News report.
Britain in January raised its international terrorism threat level to "severe" – the second highest level of alert in the five-tier system.
The head of Britain's MI5 Security Service, Jonathan Evans, said on September 16 there remained "a serious risk of a lethal attack taking place."
Eiffel Tower alert
The Eiffel Tower and the surrounding Champ de Mars park were briefly evacuated on Tuesday because of a bomb alert, the fourth such alert in the Paris region in as many weeks, but a search turned up nothing, police said.
French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said on Sept. 20 France faced a real terrorism threat due to a backlash from al-Qaeda militants in North Africa, with fears growing of an attack from home-grown cells within French borders.
Citing unidentified intelligence sources, Sky said the planned attacks would have been similar to the commando-style raids carried out in Mumbai by Pakistan-based gunmen in 2008.
The heavily armed militants launched an assault on various targets in Mumbai, including the Taj Mahal hotel and the city's main train station.
The United States appeared to have widened drone aircraft attacks against al Qaeda-linked militants in Pakistan and might have killed a senior leader of the group, Pakistani and US officials said on Tuesday.
US officials declined to comment on specific plots in Europe or elsewhere but acknowledged that targeted drone strikes in Pakistan were meant to disrupt militant networks planning attacks.
"It shouldn't surprise anyone that links between plots and those who are orchestrating them lead to decisive American action," a US official told Reuters.
"The terrorists who are involved are, as everyone should expect, going to be targets. That's the whole point of all of this."
The US national security officials said that most of the threat reporting suggested that the targets of whatever plots were under way were in Europe. One of the officials said, however, that there was particular concern that US interests in Europe might be targeted.
Two officials also said that they could not rule out the possibility that some of the threat reporting could relate to attack plots under way which might be directed at targets inside the United States. One of these officials added that the intelligence reporting was tangled and could mean that more than one plot has been set in motion.
US intelligence chief James Clapper declined to comment directly on any European plot but stressed that al Qaeda remained committed to attacking Europe and the United States.
"We are not going to comment on specific intelligence, as doing so threatens to undermine intelligence operations that are critical to protecting the US and our allies," Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said in a statement.
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -