News / Europe

France Warned of New Terror Threat

Saudi Arabia has warned France that Europe is at threat of an al-Qaida attack. A French official says his country in particular, is the target of an imminent attack.

French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said France had received information from the Saudi Arabian secret services that al-Qaida in Saudi Arabia is a threat to Europe, and especially to France.

He said in recent days France has also received information that a female suicide bomber might carry out an attack on French territory.

Last month an alleged terror plot was unearthed that was said to threaten France, Britain, and Germany. Security sources said the plot was linked to al-Qaida and would have seen gunmen attack the streets of some of Europe's largest cities.

Hortefeux's comments in France come on the same day the British government published a new national security strategy.  It says cyber attacks pose one of the biggest threats to British security.

Iran was recently hit by a computer virus called Stuxnet, which Iranian officials described as an act of "computer terrorism" perpetrated by the "domineering powers."

Analyst Elizabeth Quintana, from the London-based Royal United Services Institute, says cyber warfare poses an international threat.  "It is a global threat and it has unintended consequences.  I mean, Stuxnet was allegedly targeted at the Iranian nuclear facility or at a particular facility, but it spread all over the world.  So it is very difficult to limit the collateral damage on these things," she said.

She says Israel and the United States were suspected of carrying out Stuxnet against Iran - and she says if that is the case, it may have been a mistake.  "The problem is obviously if it was the U.S., that they may have shot themselves in the foot because it has shown the criminal underworld, that are very, very talented, exactly how to target a national power station or other critical national infrastructure.  And there are parts of the world, countries, where they will not prosecute their cyber criminals because they will actually call on them if they want something to be done, but they do not want to actually be formally seen to be doing it or to have it on their hand," she said.

Earlier this year the United States Defense Department appointed its first senior general to direct cyber warfare.

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