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Osama bin Laden ordered Mumbai-style attack on Britain

world Updated: Oct 02, 2010 21:34 IST
US intelligence agencies

US intelligence agencies have said that Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had personally ordered Mumbai-style commando attacks on Britain, a media report said on Saturday.

The Al-Qaeda leader, whose direct link to the plot was released by intelligence officials via National Public Radio in the US on Friday, is said to have sent a directive to his planners several months ago naming the countries and the type of attacks he wanted, the Daily Mail reported.

The revelation came just two days after details of how US drone strikes fired into militant camps in Pakistan's tribal area had disrupted the planning of the Al-Qaeda operation.

Two British brothers of Pakistani origin -- one of whom was reportedly killed in the drone strikes earlier this month -- and eight Germans were said to have been receiving terror training for the raids in camps near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, the daily said.

Intelligence sources revealed that Al-Qaeda-linked militants were planning simultaneous strikes on Britain and two other European countries -- France and Germany.

Gunmen had planned to open fire on crowds at busy European tourist sites and take hostages at hotels in a plot that would have marked a new style of attack by Al-Qaeda, the report said.

The attacks would have been similar to the Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008 which left 166 people dead.

"We know that Osama bin Laden issued the directive," National Public Radio quoted an unnamed intelligence official as saying.

"And if he issued the directive, we just don't believe that the US wouldn't be on his shortlist of strategic targets."

An intelligence team is said to have been tracking the two British brothers for nearly a year and the Germans for more than six months.

"They have been making calls to Germany and London," an intelligence official in Pakistan said. "They have been talking about and looking for facilitators and logistics there to carry out terror strikes."

Both European and US officials said the plot was still in its early stages and not considered serious enough to raise the terror threat level.

Details of the plot are said to have emerged following the arrest of a German citizen of Afghan descent, Ahmed Sidiqi, 36, in Kabul in July. He is said to have supplied details of Al Qaeda training camps used by Europeans and of plans to carry out attacks in Europe.