I’ve noticed that there are several news articles floating around the Internet concerning Iraq’s recent announcement that they have captured two al-Qaeda members, one of which was apparently involved in a plot to attack the soccer World Cup next month in South Africa.
I was waiting for the security section of Project 2010 to publish a statement regarding this issue, but for some reason they appear to be silent (or a bit slow) on this matter. Maybe their silence (or reluctance) has something to do with the fact that our National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele is also totally clueless concerning this issue. Well, that’s what most of the news reposts suggest!
These same reports mention that when the South African national police spokesman Vishnu Naidoo reacted to the news, he told SAPA news agency: “I know absolutely nothing about that, I am making inquiries”. This report here is but one of many that confirm the South African authorities ignorance on this matter.
This is not the first al-Qaeda-linked ‘World Cup’ terrorist threat that has been exposed.
In October 2009, South Africa’s National Intelligence Agency, senior police forces and American agents jointly conducted an operation, during which they arrested militants linked to extremists in Somalia and Mozambique, who were hatching plans to carry out bomb attacks during the mega event. The forces nabbed the militants after they intercepted a call made to the Al-Qaida-linked Al-Shabaab group in Somalia discussing setting off bombs. They also seized mobile phones and SIM cards from the suspects.
“The interception revealed that these people planned to move en masse from Mozambique to here in 2010,” The Daily Star quoted a source, as saying. Police also claimed that the network has links with al-Qaeda’s henchmen in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Source: www.thaindian.com
On Monday, 21 September this year, an al-Qaeda splinter group (later identified as al-Shabaab, by certain media sources), telephoned the US embassy in Pretoria and apparently gave detailed plans about alleged attacks planned against several US government buildings in South Africa. The US embassy and USAid offices were among the buildings identified as being under apparent threat.
News.iafrica.com has also reported extensively on the subject of ‘World Cup terror threats’, and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s response to these threats, which basically amounts to: "Don’t worry, we have everything under control!"
How can everything be under control when the National Police Commissioner and the national police spokesman in South Africa are the last people to be informed about Iraq’s exposure of a terror plot?
I’ve decided to use the following news report concerning the latest terror plot, as it also provides some background info about the terrorist:
World Cup Attack Plotter Is Captured Al-Qaeda Member, Iraq Says
By Nayla Razzouk and Caroline Alexander
May 17 (Bloomberg) -- Iraq announced the capture of two al- Qaeda members and said one of them was involved in a plot to attack the soccer World Cup next month in South Africa.
The men from al-Qaeda’s Iraq branch were identified as Abdullah Azzam Saleh al-Qahtani, a Saudi Arabian national, and Abu Yassin al-Jazairi, an Algerian, Major General Qassim Atta, spokesman for the Baghdad Military Command, said in a news conference today in the capital.
Al-Qahtani worked with Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy to Osama bin Laden, “to plot terrorist attacks during the World Cup in South Africa,” the spokesman said in the briefing on state- owned al-Iraqiya television.
Atta didn’t provide further details about the alleged plot on the world’s most-watched sporting event, which starts June 11. Police in South Africa are making inquiries into the Iraqi investigation, the South African Press Association reported.
Al-Qahtani, who was born in 1979, was a lieutenant in the Saudi Arabian army before entering Iraq and serving as al-Qaeda security chief in Baghdad, Atta said. He was detained under a false name by U.S. forces in Iraq in 2007 and released in 2009.
Al-Qahtani is also accused of playing a role in attacks on Shiite Muslim religious sites in the Iraqi cities of Karbala and Najaf, killing jewelers and robbing jewelry shops, blowing up hotels in Baghdad, and plotting bank heists, according to Atta.
Al-Jazairi, was born 1976, the spokesman said. He entered Iraq from Syria and was caught by U.S. forces in 2006 and released in 2008, he said.
Violence in Iraq has dropped from its peak levels in 2006-7 when the country tipped toward civil war between majority Shiite and minority Sunni Muslims. A surge in attacks following inconclusive elections on March 7 has been blamed by government officials on an attempt by al-Qaeda to re-ignite sectarian tensions and undermine confidence in Iraq’s security forces.
At least 90 people were killed and 340 wounded on May 10 in attacks across Iraq. A car bombing and a suicide blast at a soccer game on May 14 left at least 25 people dead and another 100 wounded.
In a statement posted on the Internet over the past weekend, al-Qaeda announced replacements for its leaders in Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri, who were killed on April 19 in a joint U.S.-Iraqi raid.
The replacements were identified as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Husseini al-Qurashi and his deputy, Abu Abdalluh al-Hussani al-Qurashi. In a separate statement, the group also named its new “minister of war” as al-Nasser Lideen Allah Abu Suleiman.
Atta said that “al-Qaeda was facing difficulties,” particularly financial difficulties, which he said explained why it has targeted banks and jewellers. Source: www.bloomberg.com
See also my related post on this blog:
2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup and the Terrorist Threat