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'Al-Qaeda grooming Muslims for Mumbai-style attack in UK'

world Updated: Jun 12, 2010 20:40 IST

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Young British Muslims are being groomed by al-Qaeda for a Mumbai-style attack on targets in Britain, the country's spy agency has warned.

Britain's internal intelligence agency MI5 has warned that a new generation of British extremists is being radicalised by Middle East-based Anwar al-Awlaki, who recruited the Detroit plane bomber.

They are concerned that Awlaki's followers could unleash a wave of easily planned guerrilla-style terrorist attacks similar to the massacre in Mumbai, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Such small-scale attacks could be carried out cheaply by individuals with little terrorist training and without the need for the support of a large organisation, it said.

According to the report, al-Awlaki caught the headlines with one of his statements in March, in which he said: "Isn't it ironic that the two capitals of the war against Islam, Washington DC and London, have also become among the centres of Western Jihad (holy war). Jihad is becoming as American as apple pie and as British as afternoon tea."

Awlaki, born in America but of Yemeni descent, is in hiding in Yemen, where he spent his teenage years. He is known for his English language sermons delivered over internet.

In the past few weeks, al-Qaeda has released a 45-minute interview with him in which he admitted involvement in 14 plots in the US, Canada and Britain, the report said.

The British security forces have become so worried about Awlaki's rising influence that they have alerted ministers to their fears. He is being regarded as one of the world's most wanted terrorists, the report said.