Norway `bomb plot` underscores al Qaeda pitfalls

When police arrested a suspected al Qaeda cell in Norway last month they turned up the makings of a bomb lab tucked away in a nondescript Oslo apartment building.

Last Updated: Aug 29, 2010, 20:47 PM IST

Oslo: When police arrested a suspected
al Qaeda cell in Norway last month they turned up the makings
of a bomb lab tucked away in a nondescript Oslo apartment
building.

An Associated Press investigation shows that authorities
learned early on about the alleged cell by intercepting
e-mails from an al Qaeda operative in Pakistan and, thanks to
those early warnings, were able to secretly replace a key
bomb-making ingredient with a harmless liquid when one of the
suspects ordered it at an Oslo pharmacy.

Officials say the suspected plot against this quiet
Nordic country was one of three planned attacks on the West
hatched in the rugged mountains of northwest Pakistan by some
of al Qaeda’s most senior leaders. The other plots targeted
the bustling New York subway and a shopping mall in
Manchester, England.

Interviews with US and European intelligence officials
and documents reviewed by a news agency paint the picture of a
loosely organised cell that was doomed to fail long before
Norwegian police raided its basement lab in suburban Oslo in
July.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because
they were not authorised to discuss the cases publicly.

The Norwegian plot`s undoing, and that of its sibling
plots in the US and Britain, casts light on the potential
pitfalls of al Qaeda’s changing tactics in the decade since
the massive, highly organised Sept 11 attacks.

PTI