‘Qaeda-Linked’ Group Renews Threat to Attack Europe
Muslim militants claiming links to al Qaeda vowed new attacks on Europe once a “truce” offered by Osama bin Laden expires in two weeks, newspapers said on Friday. Governments and analysts played down the threat, noting the group in question had made unfounded claims before; French President Jacques Chirac said he took any such report seriously but that little could be done to improve already tight security.
“To the European people … you only have a few more days to accept bin Laden’s truce or you will only have yourselves to blame,” read the purported statement by the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, referring to bin Laden’s three-month “truce offer” — effectively an ultimatum — which ends in mid-July. “The race now is between you, time and European governments which have refused to stop their attacks against Muslims. “So do not blame us for what will happen and we apologize to you in advance if you are among those killed.”
Al Qaeda leader bin Laden, in an audiotape on April 15, gave European states three months to pull troops out of Afghanistan, Iraq and other Muslim countries or face new attacks like the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people on March 11. European security sources viewed that offer as a propaganda ploy to help justify future attacks. But a senior intelligence official told Reuters this week there was no indication of plans for any attack immediately after the ultimatum expires. Excerpts of the Abu Hafs statement were published by two London-based Arabic newspapers, Asharq al-Awsat and al-Hayat. Al-Hayat said the letter arrived by e-mail dated July 1. It is not clear how close the Abu Hafs group is to bin Laden himself.
Ultimately, it’s irrelevant. They’re all on the same team, using the same playbook, and have the same opponent.
UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein: “America hits too hard. Now Europe…Europe we can handle….”