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Commando-Style Terror Plot Targeted Europe

French policemen patrol in the Saint-Lazare railway station in Paris as people come back after having been evacuated for a false bomb alert, 27 Sep 2010
French policemen patrol in the Saint-Lazare railway station in Paris as people come back after having been evacuated for a false bomb alert, 27 Sep 2010

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Al-Qaida allegedly has been planning a major terror attack aimed at Germany, Britain and France.  Reports say the attacks were planned in Pakistan and would have seen gun-marauding insurgents on the streets of some of Europe's largest cities.

Sally Leivesley, a security advisor based in Britain, said, "The potential for three countries - France, Germany, and Britain - to be attacked simultaneously is actually a global shock attack and it comes out of the maturity in the style of attacks that Pakistan has very sadly been having for a long time, and also that the soldiers are seeing in Afghanistan."

Officials in the United States and Europe have so far refused to confirm the report on record.  U.S. Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, Jr. has said that the U.S. has shared intelligence with Europe in recent days and is working with its allies to combat international terrorism.

Reports by the British media say well-armed jihadists planned to attack major European cities in a manner similar to the attack against Mumbai in 2008.  In that attack, ten gunmen killed 166 people in a three-day assault on India's most populated city.

Tobias Feakin is Director of National Security & Resilience at the Royal United Services Institute.  He said the nature of terrorism is changing.  In the past, terrorist organizations planned high impact explosive attacks on high-security targets, such as the airline industry.  He said an attack like that against Mumbai is different.

"There are varying ways in which it's more dangerous, this kind of attack, because you can have a huge impact with quite a low level of technology, but in the same token, actually the amount of attack planning and training that needs to take place gives you a number of points where you could perhaps interdict these individuals before the attack takes place."

Britain's Home Office has refused to comment on the reports.  Germany said Wednesday that at this point there are no "concrete pointers" to imminent attacks in Germany. Neither country has raised its terrorism threat level.  

In France, ministers warned earlier this month of a terror threat.  A famous monument in Paris, the Eiffel Tower, was evacuated Tuesday due to a bomb scare for the second time this month.

The terror plot has been linked to an increase in U.S. drone attacks against Pakistan this month. Security experts say there have been around 20 attacks in September - double the average number.

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