The detention in Afghanistan of a German citizen of Afghan descent — reportedly a source of information about potential terrorist plots against targets in Europe and possibly the United States — has renewed focus on a stream of Europeans who have travelled to Pakistan in recent years for training at militant camps.
Just as American officials have been sounding an alarm about the radicalisation of US citizens involved in plots against the homeland, European Union officials have warned that a new generation of Western citizens, including whole families, have travelled to Pakistan, and some appear determined to return home to carry out terrorist attacks.
“A not insignificant number of radicalised EU nationals and residents are travelling to conflict areas or attending terrorist training camps and returning to Europe,” said Gilles de Kerchove, the EU’s counterterrorism coordinator, in a report to be released on Friday.
In part to disrupt possible plots against Europe, the CIA this month escalated its drone campaign in the North and South Waziristan regions of Pakistan, where many of the expatriate militants are thought to be based. US officials declined to discuss whether information provided by Ahmed Siddiqui, the German in custody at the US air base at Bagram, has heightened concern about attacks.
There was, however, a heavy police presence in parts of London on Wednesday, including around Buckingham Place and Trafalgar Square. Victoria Station was briefly evacuated. In Paris on Tuesday, the Eiffel Tower was evacuated for the second time in two weeks.
A US official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters said that various conspiracies at different levels of development are driving the anxiety.
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