London: Al Qaeda`s bomb makers are believed to be planting explosives in Christmas toys bound for Europe and the US that would be timed to explode once they are in stores, a media report said on Sunday.
British intelligence agencies believe al Qaeda`s warlords, including its chief bomb maker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri in Yemen, plan to smuggle in their deadly cargo aboard freight ships after airport security was tightened following the failed ink cartridge bomb attacks 10 days ago, the Daily Express reported.
Al-Asiri is the main suspect in a plot to get parcel bomb packages onto US-bound cargo planes.
British surveillance experts in Afghanistan and their American colleagues uncovered the latest threat last week.
They intercepted conversations between terrorists from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the group responsible for the ink bombs, revealing they were planning a spectacular hit for the festive season.
AQAP leader, American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, and his right-hand man al-Asiri are aiming to use sea ports because they believe security there is more relaxed, the report said.
With so much Christmas stock arriving in Britain, they are confident their toy bombs can remain undetected.
A British intelligence officer told the Sunday Express: "Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula see the festive season as their ideal time to strike because of its importance in the Christian calendar.”
"The bombs found at East Midlands airport and Dubai escaped scrutiny until the last moment. It would be much easier to plant a similar bomb inside a Christmas toy."
Al Qaeda is rumoured to have control of at least 23 ships, nicknamed "Osama bin Laden`s Navy", registered in the names of companies that support the terror group.
British securities agencies fear the vessels could be used to ferry toys filled with the same powerful explosive used in the ink bombs and last year`s failed Christmas Day underpants bomb plot on an airliner, the report said.