Berlin, Oct 29 (ANI): Al-Qaeda planned to take hostages in its Mumbai-style attacks on Britain, France and Germany in a possible 'Euro Plot' to demand the release of 9/11 terror mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, according to a former associate of Osama bin Laden.
"I have information that I consider to be reliable, according to which al-Qaida in Waziristan is training how to carry out multiple parallel hostage takings in order to enforce the release of a prisoner," Spiegel Online quoted Noman Benotman, a Libyan and former Afghanistan terrorist camp trainer, as saying.
According to the ex-jihadist, the alleged plans for attacks on European targets that authorities have been warning about in recent weeks are real.
The plan consists of storming buildings in Germany, France and Britain at the same time and holding the people inside hostage with the aim of forcing the release of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind 9/11 who is now sitting in jail in the United States awaiting trial for the attacks, he said.
43-year-old Benotman said that although he could not name his sources in order to protect them, he vouched for their credibility.
Berlin based terror expert Guido Steinberg, with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, saw little reason to cast doubt on them, either.
"Benotman knows the jihadist scene and their leadership better than most," he said, adding, "It is entirely possible that he obtained information on terror plots. In the past all of his information proved to be right."
"The scenario by Benotman is entirely plausible," says Magnus Ranstorp, research director at the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defense College.
"Given the context of how Al-Qaida thinks about operational impact and surprise, this would be a low-cost, high-impact operation that would surprise and shock the West," he added.
Benotman also referred to two events that add credence to his claim. Last fall, he pointed out, Al-Qaeda had named Germany as a terror target, a threat he considere to be still valid. He also referred to an audio message from bin Laden in June 2010, in which he had warned the United States that Al-Qaeda would kill American prisoners if the US executed Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
"I know Osama bin Laden personally," said Benotman, adding, "It's very important to him that, after every operation, he can claim: Why are you surprised? It was exactly as I had announced."
Benotman pointed out that even if the US did not fulfil al-Qaida's demand to release Mohammed, which is the more probable scenario, the terrorists could still manage to achieve two goals.
The global media would spend days focusing entirely on Al-Qaeda and its demands, he said, and added that they would create a gulf between the US and Europe, if innocent people were to die there because of Washington not accepting the terrorist group's demand. (ANI)