A video clip circulated among al Qaeda followers Tuesday, May 1, brings news of a new operational arm established in Europe.
The masked gunmen depicted on the tape call the new outfit “Al Qaeda in the Lands of the Villains.” The armed men in full military get-up are shown practicing shooting up and seizing civilian buses, assaults on military installations and training in the assembly of bombs and mines.
The background landscape is typically European, green valleys, afforested hills, fertile fields and avenues of verdant trees. Some DEBKA-Net-Weekly sources place the film’s location in Russia’s Chechnya or some other part of the Caucasus.
The uniformed commentator speaking through a khaki scarf reads out Al Qaeda Europe’s three main objectives in Arabic with a heavy Egyptian accent.
1. A broad trans-continental recruitment campaign for jihadists to fight in Chechnya, Iraq, Palestine and Kashmir.
2. The training of believers to fight the infidels, namely the Christians and Jews living in Europe.
3. The enclosure of Muslims in European countries in frameworks that insulate them from infidel influence and culture.
Anti-terror authorities across Europe find the disclosure of this new organization disturbing. They know from experience that al Qaeda never goes public on an operational network unless it is already functioning and its cells primed for striking in the short term.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was launched in the fall of 2006.
Five months later, its killers began striking out against the Algerian army in a campaign that peaked in April 2007 with attacks on government locations in the Algerian capital and in Casablanca, Morocco.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources report that European anti-terror services are treating the al Qaeda publication as portending a violent summer at the peak tourist season. The jihadists appear to be giving advance warning of a coordinated series of attacks aimed at a high casualty toll spread out across different locations.
The next three months, May, June and July, are seen to be critical.
Britain and France will be in the process of government change with the retirement of British prime minister Tony Blair and French president Jacques Chirac.
Chancellor Gordon Brown will be settling in at 10 Downing Street and either Nicolas Sarkozy or Segolene Royal at the Elysee Palace. Transitions and their attendant uncertainties offer al Qaeda tempting opportunities for striking mayhem and death.
The tidings presented in the terrorists’ new videotape are backed up by reports of unusual activity in the last three weeks among al Qaeda cells in Spain.