2010 European terror plot

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The 2010 European terror plot was an alleged Al-Qaeda plot to launch "commando-style" terror attacks on France, United Kingdom, and Germany.[1] The existence of the plot was revealed in late September 2010 after it was disrupted by intelligence agencies.[2][3][4] Thought to be ordered by Osama bin Laden himself the plot led to an unprecedented increase in Drone attacks in Pakistan and travel advisories from several countries to their citizens to be careful while traveling in Europe.

Plot[edit]

The existence of the plot was revealed by several media sources including Sky News on 28 September 2010.[5] Intelligence officials stated that the plot was ordered by Osama bin Laden himself.[6][7] The plan was to launch attacks similar to the 2008 Mumbai attacks.[2] It was discovered and disrupted by the combined efforts of the security services of the United States, Britain, Germany and France.[2] According to Der Spiegel, the first information came from a 36-year-old German man from Hamburg identified as Ahmad Siddiqui, who was detained by authorities in July, 2010, while attempting to fly from Kabul to Europe. He was a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and had trained in Pakistan, where he was sheltered by the Haqqani network. Currently he is in custody of NATO at the Bagram Airfield.[6][8] The German Muslims linked to the plot were associated with the Al-Quds Mosque Hamburg, the mosque frequented by the September 11 terrorists.[9][10] German authorities have closed the mosque.[11][12]

According to German intelligence officials, in early 2009, Sidiqi and 10 others left Hamburg for the tribal areas of Pakistan where 8 of them joined the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

One member of the group was Rami Makanesi, 25, a German of Syrian descent. Another was Shahab Dashti, a German citizen of Iranian descent. He appeared in an IMU video in late 2009. Wielding a knife and gun, he urged other Germans to join in jihad against American forces in Afghanistan. Several other Germans in the video were shown firing weapons in what appeared to be live-fire exercises. Several scenes featured what appeared to be the group's members using rockets and guns to practice storming enemy positions, learning the type of combat skills that Western counter-terrorism officials fear could be used in Western cities in an attack similar to 2008 Mumbai attacks. One European counterterrorism official said Sidiqi told his interrogators that Naamen Meziche, a French citizen of Algerian descent had assumed a planning role in the terrorist plot which Osama Bin Laden himself approved. Pakistan officials captured Naamen Meziche in a raid near the border with Iran sometime in the middle of June 2012.[13]

On 3 October 2010, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a joint bulletin warning that terror attacks were being plotted against targets in Europe.

German officials said the Hamburg group members were recruited from the Taiba mosque in Hamburg. In the 1990s, that same mosque - then called Al Quds - was attended by Mohamed Atta, who went on to become the lead hijacker in the 9/11 attacks. Hamburg authorities shut the mosque a few weeks after Sidiqi was arrested since they said the mosque had become a recruiting center for jihadists across Europe.

On 4 October 2010 a US drone fired a missile at a building in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan and killed 11 suspected militants believed to be members of Jihad al Islami. Pakistani intelligence officials confirmed on the next day that five German nationals were among them, as well as three other foreigners whose nationalities were not disclosed. The rest were Pakistanis.

A Pakistani intelligence official confirmed that 8 Germans and 2 British brothers were central players in the plot. They were hiding in North Waziristan and were being tracked by Pakistan, Germany and Britain.[14] A Briton of Pakistani origin named Abdul Jabbar, originally from Jhelum District, suspected of being involved in this plot was killed in a drone strike according to Pakistani officials.[15] He was allegedly being groomed to be the leader of Al-Qaeda group in Britain charged with attacking targets in Europe.[16] According to Pakistani intelligence dozens of Islamic militants with European citizenship, many of Pakistani origin, were hiding in the tribal areas of Pakistan along the Afghan border and plotting attacks in Europe.[17] British Government Communications Headquarters estimates that about 20 Britons are getting training in North Waziristan.[17]

Siddiqui indicated that Younis al-Mauretani was his al-Qaeda contact. In early September 2011 in Quetta, al-Mauretani was arrested by the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence with Frontier Corps Balochistan and assistance from U.S. intelligence.[18]

Response[edit]

On a visit to Pakistan soon after the plot was uncovered CIA director Leon Panetta demanded full co-operation by Pakistani authorities in neutralizing the plot.[19]

Drone strikes[edit]

The United States responded with an increase of drone attacks on the Waziristan region of Pakistan.[1][4][20] In September 2010, 22 drone strikes were carried out, most in a month since the attacks began. On October 4, 2010 a strike killed up to 8 German nationals suspected to be part of this plot.[21] An American official explained that security agencies have had "to work backwards, with your starting point being individuals you believe are involved in plotting, even when you don't have the full outlines of the plot itself... That's why we have been striking - with precision - people and facilities that are part of these conspiracies." [1]

Travel advisories[edit]

The U.S. government issued an advisory asking that citizens "take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling" to or within Europe in response to this plot.[22] The British government raised the level of threat of terrorism from "general" to "high" for Britons in Germany and France.[23] Canada urged its citizens to exercise caution when traveling in Europe. However, the Canadian government has not changed or upgraded its official travel advisories.[24][25] In an unusual move Japan also issued a travel alert warning its citizens of the risks of a terrorist attack in Europe.[26] Swedish foreign ministry also called on its citizens traveling to rest of Europe to be on alert.[27]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "CIA acts on fear of al-Qaeda plot to hit in Europe," Greg Miller, September 29, 2010, Washington Post.
  2. ^ a b c "'Mumbai-style' terror attack on UK, France and Germany foiled," Richard Norton-Taylor and Owen Bowcott, 29 September 2010, The Guardian.
  3. ^ "France unusually rattled as reports of Europe terror plots emerge; Reports of a possible Al Qaeda terror plot in Europe that would involve Mumbai-style strikes in Britain, France, and Germany come as France is on alert for unrelated threats," Anita Elash, September 29, 2010, Christian Science Monitor.
  4. ^ a b "U.S. Probes Scope of Suspected Terror Plot," Siobhan Gorman, September 28, 2010, Wall Street Journal.
  5. ^ "Europe 'terror plot foiled'". Al Jazeera English. 29 September 2010. Archived from the original on 1 October 2010. Retrieved 1 October 2010. 
  6. ^ a b Temple-Raston, Dina (30 September 2010). "Bin Laden Told Affiliates to Plan Mumbai-Like Attacks". NPR. Archived from the original on 3 October 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  7. ^ Gardham, Duncan (1 October 2010). "Bin Laden 'personally approved' attacks on Europe". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 4 October 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2010. 
  8. ^ "Al Qaeda plot in Europe possibly revealed by German terror suspect; The Al Qaeda plot was reportedly a coordinated Mumbai-style attack on major cities in Britain, France, Germany, and possibly the United States," Tom A. Peter, September 29, 2010, Christian Science Monitor.
  9. ^ "Europe warned of Mumbai-style terror attacks," Nic Robertson, September 29, 2010, CNN.
  10. ^ "9/11 Mosque Continued To Produce Jihadis; German-Speaking Militants Came From Same Hamburg Mosque As 9/11 Hijackers," RICHARD ESPOSITO, RHONDA SCHWARTZ, MATTHEW COLE and ANNA SCHECTER, Sept. 29, 2010, ABC News.
  11. ^ "Germany shuts 9/11 plotters' mosque in Hamburg". BBC. 2010-08-09. Archived from the original on 17 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-03. 
  12. ^ "Hamburg Officials Raid Alleged Islamist Recruiting Site". Der Spiegel. 2010-08-09. Archived from the original on 17 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-03. 
  13. ^ "Pakistan arrests French man accused of being prominent Al Qaeda militant, officials say". Foxnews.com. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "Germans, Brits behind Europe terror plot: official". Dawn (newspaper). 30 September 2010. Archived from the original on 3 October 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  15. ^ "Briton suspected of plotting Mumbai-style attacks killed by drone". The Daily Telegraph. 30 September 2010. Archived from the original on 3 October 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2010. 
  16. ^ "Briton killed by drone in Pak 'was to be terror chief'". Dawn (newspaper). 6 October 2010. Archived from the original on 7 October 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2010. 
  17. ^ a b Gannon, Kathy (3 October 2010). "Pakistan: Dozens of Europeans in terror training". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 7 October 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2010. 
  18. ^ Top al Qaeda leader arrested in Pakistan, CNN, September 5, 2011
  19. ^ "CIA chief takes tough line on drone hits". Dawn (newspaper). 1 October 2010. Archived from the original on 3 October 2010. Retrieved 1 October 2010. 
  20. ^ "Drone attacks 'linked' to suspected Europe terror plot". BBC. 5 October 2010. Archived from the original on 6 October 2010. Retrieved 6 October 2010. 
  21. ^ "Pakistan drone attacks kill Germans in response to Europe terror plot". The Christian Science Monitor. 5 October 2010. Archived from the original on 5 October 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2010. 
  22. ^ "Travel Alert U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Bureau of Consular Affairs". 3 October 2010. Archived from the original on 5 October 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  23. ^ "Vagueness of Alert Leaves Travelers Frustrated". The New York Times. 3 October 2010. Archived from the original on 4 October 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2010. 
  24. ^ "Canada warns travellers to be vigilant in Europe". The Globe and Mail. 4 October 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  25. ^ "Security Situation in Europe". Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. 4 October 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2010. 
  26. ^ "Japan issues Europe travel alert, joining US". The Christian Science Monitor. 4 October 2010. Archived from the original on 5 October 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  27. ^ "Terror threat prompts Sweden travel warning". The Local. 4 October 2010. Archived from the original on 5 October 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2010. 

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