US, Europe experts play down reports of new Qaeda threats

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Paris, Sept.30 (ANI): European and American officials have said that they do not consider a terror attack as being eminent after detecting several credible threats from terrorist groups in Pakistan and northern Africa targeting European capitals.

According to the New York Times, the plots are being described as largely aspirational and aimed at "soft targets" in Britain, France and Germany.

One Western official in Europe who is familiar with the intelligence said one suspected plot involved teams of gunmen equipped with small arms who hoped to mount commando-style raids in Europe.

Other terrorism experts compared the plan with the attacks two years ago in Mumbai, in which a Pakistan-based terrorist group tied down police and army units for days. The official said that comparisons with Mumbai were overdrawn.

A senior French official said: "Our problem is North Africa; it's A.Q.I.M., and it's unrelated to Pakistan."

An American official said plans for European attacks among groups operating in Pakistan were at "varying stages of maturity" and were at "a worrisome level."

The official said that American intelligence authorities had identified specific plotters, presumably through communications intercepts.

President Obama has received several briefings from John O. Brennan, his senior counter-terrorism adviser, as well as from American intelligence officials since the Qaeda plots were first detected several weeks ago, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.

Congressional committees have also been briefed on the heightened threat levels.

James R. Clapper Jr., Director of National Intelligence, said:

"We are not going to comment on specific intelligence, as doing so threatens to undermine intelligence operations that are critical to protecting the U.S. and our allies.

He added: "As we have repeatedly said, we know A.Q. wants to attack Europe and the United States. We continue to work closely with our European allies on the threat from international terrorism, including Al Qaeda."

The German Interior Ministry said in a statement that it was aware of Al Qaeda's "long-term" aim to attack Western targets, but that "at present there are no concrete pointers to imminent attacks on Germany stemming from this."

French officials say they are mainly focused on threats from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb that stem from a separate stream of intelligence. (ANI)

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