Wednesday, September 29, 2010

'Mumbai-Style' Terror Attack frustrated in Europe

A commando-style terror plot that purportedly called for simultaneous attacks in multiple European cities has been disrupted after the CIA launched a barrage of drone strikes in Pakistan to help thwart the plot.

The plot, which included concurrent attacks on hotels in London, as well as cities in France and Germany, was in an advanced but not imminent stage. The plotters are ostensibly of Pakistani or Algerian origin and have been trained in Pakistan's tribal areas.

While officials are still working to understand the plot, a leading concern is that the plotters were modeling their European attack on the 2008 attack in Mumbai, India, in which armed gunman killed more than 200 people in harmonized attacks at hotels and other easily accessed venues.

Several U.S. officials haven't seen a terror threat as serious as the European plot for many years. This isn't just your typical Washington talk about how the threats have evolved. People are very worried about what they're seeing.

Intelligence important to their arrest had resulted in heightened security at airports across Europe.

The CIA had stepped up buzz strikes in Pakistan in an effort to help thwart the plot. The more than 20 strikes this month represent a monthly record, according to a tally by the New America Foundation.

The government knows [Al Qaeda] wants to attack Europe and the United States. And they persist to work closely with our European allies on the threat from international terrorism, including Al Qaeda.

Without speaking directly of the European plot, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned last week such attacks on publicly accessible areas are a major concern.

European governments have not commented on what plots may have been disrupted, though security officials in Britain have said that the Obama administration's stepped-up attacks in Pakistan has disrupted the ability of Al Qaeda in Pakistan to plan terrorist strikes on the west.

The U.K., which has the second-biggest foreign troop pledge in Afghanistan after the U.S., said the attacks are a matter for the U.S. and Pakistan.