Bin Laden had plans for attacks on Britain
Published 13/05/2011 | 05:00
Osama Bin Laden was personally plotting attacks against Britain, according to a handwritten journal and files found at his compound that also contained plans for a second September 11.
The discovery of a "treasure trove" of intelligence material at his hideout in Abbottabad in Pakistan, which was removed during searches by US Navy Seals, has led to a re-assessment of his role in planning al-Qa'ida operations.
While no concrete details of plans for attacks in Britain have been released, the intelligence does contain instructions to attack transport hubs, a threat that provoked an alert in January. There is also evidence that he wanted to target US President Barack Obama and was urging his followers to replicate the impact of the September 11 attacks, even considering this year's 10th anniversary as a possible date.
US officials have said that Bin Laden was a "driving force" behind every recent al-Qa'ida plot, dispensing advice to the leaders of groups across the world.
He told them to target trains as well as aircraft, reflected in an alert issued by the security services in January that warned of plots against transport hubs by al-Qa'ida's "international operations wing" designed to cause "a large number of casualties".
The January warning detailed plans for "one or more attacks against Europe, including the UK", aimed at "high-profile Western targets" and using "vehicle-borne" or "hand-delivered" bombs and firearms.
The threat level was raised from "substantial" to "severe" for transport hubs, meaning an attack was "highly likely" and led to British Transport Police calling in extra officers.
The disclosures could cause embarrassment at MI6, which had assessed that the al-Qa'ida leader had minimal involvement in planning attacks and did not have a unit dedicated to tracking him down, officials have said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)