Intelligence services have uncovered a terror plot linked to al Qaeda to launch commando raids on cities in Europe, according to media reports. A German terror suspect is reported to have revealed the details.
An Islamist plot to launch simultaneous armed raids in major cities in Britain, France and Germany has been uncovered, media reports said on Wednesday.
The attacks - planned from Pakistan and being tracked by anti-terrorism agencies - are said to have advanced to a planning stage, according to British broadcaster Sky News and the US-based newspaper the Wall Street Journal.
Sky said that the threat was not imminent and that recent drone airstrikes in Pakistan had severely disrupted the plot.
Details of the plan are believed to originate from the interrogation of a suspected German terrorist held in Afghanistan, the website of US broadcaster ABC News reported.
Militants killed 173 and attacked two hotels in Mumbai
Unnamed US officials told ABC they had learned that Islamist terrorists were plotting a string of armed raids similar to those in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008.
'Plan to seize hostages'
Islamists were said to be planning to take westerners hostage and murder them in a similar manner to the Indian attacks, in which Pakistani militants attacked two hotels and killed 173 people using guns and grenades.
Security agencies are believed to have been hoping to keep their knowledge of the plot secret for longer to allow for the gathering of criminal evidence.
The ABC report quoted intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic as saying that the German suspect - being held at Bagram Air Base near Kabul - had been arrested in summer, while on his way back to Europe.
The terror threat in the UK has been deemed severe since January, while France and Germany are both at a heightened state of alert.
No significant fears
The German government said the threat posed by any such plot was not significant at the moment.
"At present there are no concrete pointers to imminent attacks in Germany stemming from this," the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. "The current pointers do not warrant a change in the assessment of the danger level."
News of the plot comes after the Eiffel Tower in Paris was evacuated on Tuesday. It was the second bomb hoax at the landmark in a month.
Author: Richard Connor (Reuters/dpa/AFP)
Editor: Nancy Isenson