BAGHDAD – Iraqi authorities have obtained confessions from captured insurgents who claim Al Qaeda is planning suicide attacks in the United States and Europe during the Christmas season, two senior officials said Wednesday 12/15/2010. A senior U.S. intelligence official confirmed the threat as credible.
Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told The Associated Press that the botched bombing in central Stockholm last weekend was among the alleged plots the insurgents revealed. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, in a telephone interview from New York, called the claims "a critical threat."
Both al-Bolani and Zebari said Iraq has informed Interpol of the alleged plots, and alerted authorities in the U.S. and European countries of the possible danger. Neither official specified which country or countries in Europe are alleged targets.
There was no way to verify the insurgents' claims. But Western counterterrorism officials generally are on high alert during the holiday season, especially since last year's failed attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called underwear bomber, who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.
Al-Bolani said several insurgents claimed to be part of a cell that took its orders directly from Al Qaeda's central leadership. He said at least one of the captured suspects was a foreign fighter from Tunisia. The confessions were the result of recent operations by Iraqi security forces that have netted at least 73 suspected (al-Qaeda) operatives in the last two weeks, al-Bolani said.
An Iraqi intelligence official said threat information appeared to indicate that Denmark might be attacked, but refused to give details. Similarly, a senior U.S. intelligence official in Washington said authorities were closely watching two people in an unspecified European country suspected of being linked to the plot. The people did not appear to be so-called homegrown terrorists, according to the U.S. official who would not say where they were believed to be from.
Links between Al Qaeda's central leadership, which is believed to be hiding in Pakistan, and the terror organization's front group in Iraq are tenuous as the Iraqi branch in recent years has been run by local insurgents. But al-Bolani said the claims — if true — show Al Qaeda remains a presence in Iraq.
"Several members of this terrorist group have direct links with the central leaders of the Al Qaeda organization," al-Bolani said. "Those captured represent the main structure of the Al Qaeda organization in Iraq."
Christmas time the busiest air travel time in the USA. The Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s holiday periods are among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year. During the 6-day Thanksgiving travel period, the number of long-distance trips (to and from a destination 50 miles or more away) increases by 54 percent, and during the Christmas/New Year’s Holiday period the number rises by 23 percent, compared to the average number for the remainder of the year.
December 25th, 2009, Christmas Day bomber tried to blow up airliner. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, a Nigerian man, tried to ignite an explosive device aboard a trans-Atlantic Northwest Airlines flight as the plane prepared to land in Detroit on Friday, in an incident the United States believes was “an attempted act of terrorism,” according to a White House official who declined to be identified. The device, described by officials as a mixture of powder and liquid, failed to fully detonate. Passengers on the plane described a series of pops that sounded like firecrackers.
Federal officials said the man wanted to bring the plane down. “This was the real deal,” said Representative Peter T. King of New York, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, who was briefed on the incident and said something had gone wrong with the explosive device, which he described as somewhat sophisticated. “This could have been devastating,” Mr. King said
Bill Warner Private Investigator, SEX, CRIME, CHEATERS & TERRORISM.