Daily Mail – 2010-10-11 02:34:28
LONDON (October 8, 2010) — The US has been accused by a top Pakistani diplomat of exaggerating the terror threat from Al Qaeda for political ends.
Intelligence officials also suggested the White House has tried to “stitch together” rumors of attacks to ramp up security fears.
The US warned last weekend of an increased risk of terrorist attacks in Europe and possibly an assault on transport infrastructure.
Security agents in Britain, France and Germany also warned Al Qaeda terrorists were planning a Mumbai-style atrocity in Europe.
Britain raised the terrorism alert level in its advice from travellers to Germany and France to “high” from “general” but the home level was kept at “severe.”
France also issued an extreme warning, claiming an attack in Britain was “very likely” — particularly in top tourist sites such as Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus or London transport.
But Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan’s high commissioner to Britain, claims the US warning was a bid to justify drone attacks in his country.
And he also raised the prospect Washington was trying to show its strength ahead of next month’s mid-term congressinal elections.
Mr. Hasan told the Guardian: “I will not deny the fact that there may be internal political dynamics, including the forthcoming midterm American elections.
“If the Americans have definite information about terrorists and Al Qaeda people, we should be provided that and we could go after them ourselves. Such reports are a mixture of frustration, ineptitude and lack of appreciation of ground realities.”
European intelligence experts have also questioned the likelihood of a coordinated plot targeting Britain, France and Germany.
“To stitch together [the terror plot claims] in a seamless narrative is nonsensical,” one source told the paper.
A British man, who had been tasked with leading an Al Qaeda group in the UK and others were killed by a US drone strike in Pakistan on September 8. They had been heard talking about a “commando-style” attack on prominent European sites.
Intelligence sources admit Jihadi recruits are travelling to Pakistan to train but insist the plan was nowhere near being put into action.
This nuance would put a very different slant on US drone attacks because it would mean they are not actually being unleashed to tackle an imminent threat.
The European officials told the Guardian that Washington was the ‘driver’ behind the leaking of possible plots, which intelligence agencies had been aware of for months.
US-Pakistan tensions have also been ramped up after two Pakistani soldiers were killed by mistake in a helicopter attack near the Afghan border.
American pilots mistook the troops for insurgents they were pursuing and later apologised for the error on September 30.
Pakistan closed a key border crossing in an apparent reaction, which militant gunmen have exploited by attacking stranded and rerouted Nato trucks.
Mr Hasan claims fears are growing in Pakistan that the U.S. could bolster its drone attacks with a bombing campaign using fixed-wing aircraft.
He warned increasing anger could spill over into violence aimed at the thousands of American who are currently stationed in his country.
Fears of a Mumbai-style plot were sparked after Ahmad Sidiqi, an Afghan informant said to have known 9/11 mastermind Mohammed Atta, told U.S. interrogators about the plot.
Sidiqi said Ilyas Kashmiri, an Al Qaeda commander linked to the 2008 attacks in Mumbai in India that left 174 people dead, had told him that teams had already been sent to Europe to launch similar assaults.
In France, 12 suspects were arrested this week after they were found with a huge arsenal of guns and ammunition to launch an attack anywhere in Europe.
The men were held after their phone numbers were found on the mobile phone of a suspected terrorist arrested in Italy at the weekend.
They are also believed to have been recruiting young men willing to travel to Afghanistan to fight coalition forces.
A spate of attacks by militants and warnings about the increasing strength of Islamic extremism have ramped up fears there could be a new strike.
Tony Blair, now a Middle East envoy, recently warned that the West is being ‘outspent and outmanoeuvred by Islamic extremists.’
A US official told the Guardian: ‘Our allies have been briefed on the nature of the threat and the intelligence that led to the travel alert and everyone understands this cannot be taken lightly. To try to ascribe any political motivation is misguided and irresponsible.’
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.