Tuesday 1 April 2008, by Asia Times
Last November, Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s anti-terror chief, said that al-Qaeda was the biggest threat to Europe. To confirm this, Western intelligence services have recently established operational links between al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda in The Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) whose goals include striking at the heart of Europe. Al-Qaeda has not made any secret of its eagerness to target Europe. Indeed, Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s number two, has repeatedly threatened Europe. In 2007, numerous al-Qaeda-linked plots were foiled in Europe and several cells were dismantled in France, Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. In September, thanks to information provided by US intelligence, Germany arrested three members of an al-Qaeda cell that planned on blowing up the US military base of Ramstein and the Frankfurt airport. This network allegedly had ties to other European countries since the explosives seized were similar to those used in the London attacks. The investigation also showed that the terrorists had connections to both Pakistan and Syria. Another important fact is that two out of the three alleged terrorists were Muslim converts. In fact, al-Qaeda has for a long time advocated using European nationals, and if possible converts, in terror attacks. Olivier Guitta reports.