Monday 19 February 2018

Bin Laden approved European attacks, experts say

Duncan Gardham in Islamabad

INTELLIGENCE experts launched investigations into reports yesterday that Osama bin Laden personally approved Mumbai-style attacks on Britain, France and Germany.

Western intelligence agencies believe that a plot of the size proposed, originating in Pakistan, would have to have the go-ahead from the al-Qa'ida chief.

Agents have made the assumption that bin Laden used couriers to send a message to al-Qa'ida followers telling them he would like to see a Mumbai-style attack on the three European targets.

A US official said: "Senior al-Qa'ida terrorists have been involved in many recent attack-planning efforts. It wouldn't be surprising in the least if bin Laden were involved."

If true, it would mean the al-Qa'ida chief was once again taking an operational role despite the risks to his life.

The reports emerged as an 11-minute audio tape from bin Laden surfaced on the internet yesterday, called "Reflections on the Method of Relief Work".

The ambush plots were disrupted by drone attacks in Pakistan in recent days, according to security sources. A second US counter-terrorism source said the threat was "credible, but not specific".

Western intelligence agencies have failed to get a fix on bin Laden since he walked into Pakistan as the US attacked his hideout in the mountains of Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in December 2001. Leon Panetta, the head of the CIA, said in June that it was "the early 2000s" when they had "the last precise information about where he might be located".

Pressure

US President Barack Obama said last month that pressure on the al-Qa'ida leadership meant "they have been holed up in ways that have made it harder for them to operate".

Bin Laden's message concentrated on global warming and the floods in Pakistan and focused away from terrorist attacks. "The number of victims caused by climate change is very big . . . bigger than the victims of wars," he said in his first public comments since a message emerged on March 25.

"If governments spent only 1pc of what is spent on armies, they would change the face of the world for poor people." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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