Japan and Sweden flag terror threats in Europe
JAPAN and Sweden intensified pressure on Europe's security services yesterday by issuing travel warnings of a Mumbai-style attack on major transport hubs or tourist attractions.
Japan followed America in warning its citizens that a terrorist attack in Europe would target foreign visitors. Sweden also told travellers to be on alert in public places and tourist attractions.
America triggered a Europe-wide terrorism alert based on information supplied by an informant, Ahmad Sidiqi, who told American interrogators that the alleged plot was already under way.
Mr Sidiqi met Ilyas Kashmiri, a commander with links to one of the men allegedly behind the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, at a camp in Pakistan. Mr Kashmiri said he had already sent teams to Britain and Germany,
The travel warnings from Tokyo and Stockholm came as European authorities sought to calibrate their messages on counterterrorism efforts, hoping to raise public awareness but without sowing panic.
There are new fears that the warnings could damage tourism business at the height of the recession.
Britain's Foreign Office warned travellers to France and Germany that the terror threat there was high. Sweden's Foreign Ministry did not single out any particular countries.
Amid increased security in Paris, 61 soldiers were deployed over the weekend at two sites in Paris -- Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sacre-Coeur Basilica.
One trigger for the heightened concern came from French authorities last month, who raised the terror alert level to its highest in years, pointing to increased violence and threats by al-Qa'ida in North Africa.
Public concerns intensified last week after a Pakistani intelligence official said eight Germans and two British brothers were at the heart of an al-Qa'ida-linked terror plot against European cities.
Security officials say terrorists may be plotting attacks in Europe with assault weapons at public places, similar to the 2008 shooting spree in Mumbai, India. European officials have provided no other details about specific targets.