EUROPEAN security officials said yesterday a terror plot to wage Mumbai-style shooting sprees in Britain, France and Germany is still active and that sites in Pakistan – where the threat was intercepted two weeks ago – are being scoured for al-Qaida operatives.
The plot was still in its early stages and not considered serious enough to raise the current terror threat level, officials said. Still, the Eiffel Tower in Paris was briefly evacuated on Tuesday evening, the second time in the past week because of an unspecified threat, and police were also on alert in Britain.
“This plot was in its embryonic stages,” a British government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his work said. “This one has preoccupied us more than others in the past few weeks – and it is still active – but it has not raised enough alarms to change our security threat level.”
The announcement of the plot came ahead of today’s anniversary of the Prophet Mohammed cartoons being published in a Danish newspaper.
Europe has been a target of numerous Islamic terror plots – the deadliest being the Madrid train bombings in 2004 when 10 shrapnel-filled bombs exploded during rush hour, killing 191 people and wounding about 1,800.
A year later, suicide bombers killed 52 rush-hour commuters in London aboard three subway cars and one bus.
In 2006, US and British intelligence officials thwarted one of the largest plots yet and one that changed air travel forever – a plan to explode nearly a dozen trans-Atlantic airliners.
Officials gave no other details of the recent terror plot except to say that it originated in Pakistan with a group “threatening to wage a Mumbai-style attack” on cities in Britain, France and Germany. It was not clear how the attacks would be carried out or when.
A three-day siege in 2008 by gunmen in the Indian city of Mumbai left 166 people dead and raised fears of similar low-budget types of attacks around the world – a departure from the September 11 terror attacks in the United States that brought down the Twin Towers in 2001.
The recent terror threat has prompted a surge of attacks by unmanned US drones in Pakistan, a Western counter-terrorism official said.
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