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FIFA WC under terror shadow, detained Al-Qaeda man details plot

world Updated: May 19, 2010 20:59 IST

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An alleged Al-Qaeda militant detained in Iraq has said he had talked to friends about attacking Danish and Dutch teams at the World Cup in South Africa next month to avenge insults against the Prophet Muhammad.

Iraqi security forces holding the Saudi citizen, identified as Abdullah Azam Saleh al-Qahtani, arranged for The Associated Press to interview him at an unidentified government building in Baghdad. He said he initially came to Iraq in 2004 to fight Americans and was recruited by Al-Qaeda.

An Iraqi security official with knowledge of the investigation said al-Qahtani was arrested after a joint US-Iraqi operation in April that killed the two top Al-Qaeda in Iraq figures, Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. The official asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to discuss details of the case.

Documents found in the house where they were killed, including a note written by al-Qahtani detailing a plan to launch attacks at the World Cup, led to his arrest on May 3, the official said. Iraqi authorities made it public on Monday.

"We discussed the possibility of taking revenge for the insults of the prophet by attacking Denmark and Holland," al-Qahtani told the AP. "The goal was to attack the Danish and the Dutch teams and their fans," he added.

"If we were not able to reach the teams, then we'd target the fans," he said, adding that they hoped to use guns and car bombs. It was unclear whether the militants had the ability to carry out what would have been quite a sophisticated operation, a complicated attack far from their home base.