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Al Qaeda 'high speed rail plot'

August 19, 2013

Al Qaeda has been plotting attacks on high-speed rail networks in Europe, according to a German media report. The information reportedly came from the US National Security Agency (NSA) listening in on top operatives.

A German high-speed train (Photo: imago/imagebroker)
Image: imago/imagebroker

A report by the German daily newspaper Bild on Monday said that al Qaeda leaders have been plotting attacks on high-speed rail networks across Europe.

The group was possibly targeting trains and tunnels or planning to sabotage railway tracks themselves and the electric cabling serving them.

The terrorist attacks were reported to have been a "central topic" of a conference call intercepted by the NSA, involving high-ranking al Qaeda operatives.

German authorities were said to have responded with "unseen measures" such as deploying plain-clothed police officers at main stations and along major routes, the newspaper said.

According to US media reports, a conference call involving al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and some 20 of the group's operatives was intercepted by intelligence services. On August 1, the US issued a worldwide alert about a terror plot in the Middle East or Africa.

The warning prompted the closure of 19 US embassies, with missions in Yemen viewed to be under the greatest threat. US allies, including Germany, closed diplomatic buildings for almost two weeks.

rc / ch (AFP, dpa, Reuters)