Top al Qaeda leader in Pakistan directed Europe plot: Report

Younis al Mauretani, a top al Qaeda leader operating from Pak, is behind the plot to stage Mumbai-type attacks on key European countries like the UK, Germany and France.

Updated: Oct 06, 2010, 18:31 PM IST

Berlin: Younis al Mauretani, a top al Qaeda
leader operating from Pakistan, is behind the plot to stage
Mumbai-type attacks on key European countries like the UK,
Germany and France, a media report said on Wednesday.

Ahmed Sidiqi, an Afghan-German detained in Kabul in
July, has told Western investigators that Mauretani is
directing the conspiracy to stage Mumbai-style attacks on
European cities; CNN quoted European intelligence officials as
saying.

They say Sidiqi has told interrogators that while in the
tribal areas of Pakistan he met Mauretani, who was planning
multiple attacks on European countries that would be
similar to the strike on Mumbai in 2008.

Little is known about Mauretani, but he is thought to be
from North Africa and involved with al Qaeda`s "external
operations." He is thought to be in the tribal areas on the
Pakistan-Afghan border, the report said.

According to Sidiqi, Mauritani has become al Qaeda`s
third most senior leader.

European intelligence officials say Sidiqi has revealed
that Mauretani planned to come to Europe with two other
Germans to prepare the attacks. The two Germans were part of
the group Sidiqi travelled with from Hamburg in 2009.

One was Naamen Meziche, who was of Algerian descent, and
the other was Shahab Dashti, a German-Iranian. According to
Sidiqi, both were involved in the conspiracy, a European
counter-terrorism official said.

The official said German authorities have begun checking
Sidiqi`s claims with information from another member of the
Hamburg group in custody in Germany, Rami Makanesi.

Makanesi is a German of Syrian descent who was deported
to Germany in August after being arrested by Pakistani
authorities close to the tribal areas in June. The official
says some of Sidiqi`s information matches; some does not.

According to the officials, Sidiqi said that Mauretani
had instructed him, Meziche and Dashti on how to communicate
securely on the Internet. He showed them how to use an
encrypted e-mail communication site called "Mujahedeen
Secrets."

Sidiqi had also told his American captors he met Said
Bahaji, a close associate of the 9/11 hijackers in the
Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Bahaji is believed still
at large in the area.

There are around 40 Germans believed still to be with
`jihadist` groups in the tribal areas of Pakistan, according
to German intelligence officials.

More than 200 militants have travelled from Germany to
the Afghanistan-Pakistan since the 1990s, and most of them are
believed to have received training, according to German
intelligence officials.

PTI