A rising clamor of threats against the United States comes from al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia together with increasingly vicious agitation against all things American. One Islamist internet site operating out of Kuwait shows a map of Iraq with a hangman’s noose, a pointer to al Qaeda’s intentions. Some of these sites have begun running horror photos of smashed bodies described as Iraqi clerics which the Americans are accused of kidnapping, torturing and putting to death. Al Qaeda propagandists counter the American Iron Hammer operation with their own “Islamic Iron Hammer” which threatens American, Italian, British, Australian and Japanese targets. They repeat Osama bin Laden’s last message: “After the month of Ramadan, our death (bomb) trucks will be launched against those nations until our demands are fully met.”
According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terror sources, this climate of danger has sparked the terror alerts current in the run-up to Christmas in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia as well as in Israel and Egypt and other parts of the Middle East, Australia, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong and also in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Nigeria.
Our sources add that hard intelligence data on the expected al Qaeda attacks is scarce and not specific. This lack of information shows up in the ongoing security crackdowns in two sensitive places, Britain and Turkey.
Ever since British targets were attacked in Istanbul last month, the heads of British intelligence are convinced that the next al Qaeda attack will be mounted in the British Isles, either in London or some other big city. They are also bracing for chemical or radiological terror in the form of a “dirty bomb”.
In the last ten days, police raids across Britain netted 14 suspected terrorist operatives in London, Gloucester, Birmingham and two West Midlands towns. Their biggest catch was Sajid Badat, a 24-year old Muslim living in Gloucester, who was found in possession of a small amount of explosives in his home. Under investigation is the suspicion that he was an associate or accomplice of Richard Reid, the convicted al Qaeda shoe bomber serving time in the United States for attempting to blow up an American airliner in December 2000. Terror experts doubt that this connection can be proven. They suggest that the British anti-terror authorities are shooting in the dark – more for the sake of deterring would-be terrorists and persuading them to think again before committing themselves to action than because they have any real terrorists in their sights.
A senior European security source remarked to DEBKA-Net-Weekly. “If the British possessed up-to-date intelligence on terrorist networks planning imminent attacks inside Britain, they would not bother to pick up suspects they have known about for three years. Although explosives and trainers with hollowed out heels were found at Badat’s home, it is hard to believe he posed an immediate threat. He almost certainly had al Qaeda connections in the late 1990s and early 2000 but it is doubtful that they kept in touch with him on operational matters up to the present day.
The Turkish intelligence service MIT and military intelligence moved fast after the attacks on two Istanbul synagogues on November 15 and the subsequent terror raids on the British consulate and HSBC Bank and made numerous arrests. Nonetheless, their investigation has run into a blind alley. All they have turned up till now is that the attacks were carried out by the Turkish Islamic IBDA-C which has known links to al Qaeda. The investigation has made no progress in finding out who activated the Turkish group and from where, or which Turkish coordinating party prepared the operations, picked the targets and gave the perpetrators their final instructions. As long as these questions are not answered, there can be no progress in the investigation and no guarantee that the terrorists will not strike again.