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Terrorism & Security

Europeans see higher terror threat

A new tape by Al Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri calls for reprisals in Europe, where officials see increasing terrorist activity and anger over provocative depictions of Islam.

By Peter Smith / April 23, 2008



Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said reprisals were possible in Denmark, Japan, Norway, and Sweden, in an audiotape released Tuesday. Coming in the wake of messages from Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in March, the comments have raised concerns about the potential for new attacks in the West.

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In some European countries, terror-threat levels have been elevated, with both Britain and Dutch leaders announcing in recent weeks that the potential for terror activity appeared to be increasing. That was attributed to more terrorists operating in Europe and to controversial depictions of Islam in cartoons and in film.

On Tuesday, a tape release by Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant called for strikes against the US-coalition in Iraq. The tape, for which a full translated transcript is not available, criticized the Palestinian group Hamas over "reported readiness to consider a peace deal with Israel" and Iran's "complicity" in the US assault on Afghanistan in 2001, reports the Agence France-Presse. Mr. Zawahiri also asserted that the "greed" at the root of global warming would make the world more sympathetic to Muslim "jihad" against the West. The voice on the tape could not be confirmed, but the two-hour message was the second of two installments in which Zawahiri responded to questions taken from extremist websites, the Associated Press reports.

Responding to a question of whether the terror group had plans to attack Western countries that participated in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and subsequent war, al-Zawahiri said, "My answer is: Yes! We think that any country that joined aggression on Muslims must be deterred."

The tape follows an assessment April 13 by Britain's home secretary, Jacqui Smith, describing the threat as "severe" and "growing," reports the BBC.

Ms Smith said: "We now face a threat level that is severe. It's not getting any less, it's actually growing….
"There are 2,000 individuals they are monitoring. There are 200 networks. There are 30 active plots.
"That has increased over the past two years. Since the beginning of 2007, 57 people have been convicted on terrorist plots."
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