Terror plot in Europe prompted drone strikes
LONDON – Security officials said Wednesday a terror plot to wage Mumbai-style shooting sprees or other attacks in Britain, France and Germany is still active and that recent CIA strikes in Pakistan were aimed at al-Qaida operatives suspected in the threat.
The plot was still in its early stages and not considered serious enough to raise the terror threat level, officials said. Still, the Eiffel Tower in Paris was briefly evacuated Tuesday — the second time in two weeks because of an unspecified threat — and French police were on alert.
A heavy police presence was seen Wednesday around Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Big Ben. Victoria Station was briefly evacuated after an unusual smell was reported.
“This plot was in its embryonic stages,” a British government official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his work. He said the plot had preoccupied the security community more than other recent threats, but did not merit changing the security threat level from severe to critical.
Some details about the plot came from Ahmed Siddiqui, a German citizen of Afghan background who was captured in Afghanistan in July, a U.S. official said.
Intelligence authorities used National Security Agency wiretaps to flesh out details, officials in Washington said, and while a Mumbai-style shooting spree was one possibility, there was no concrete plan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the plot.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters Wednesday the U.S. was working closely with its European allies, but declined to provide specifics.
“We are not going to comment on specific intelligence as doing so threatens to undermine intelligence operations that are critical in protecting the United States and our allies,” Clinton said. “As we have repeatedly said, we know that al-Qaida and its network of terrorists wishes to attack both European and U.S. targets.”
“I want Americans to know how focused we all are in the government and how committed we are not only in protecting our own country but in protecting our friends and allies.”