Saudi arrested for terror plot world cup

18/05/2010 at 11:28 4 comments


A Saudi army officer with ties to al-Qaeda has been arrested for allegedly planning terrors attack during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which is taking place in South Africa in three weeks time.

According to the South African Citizen newspaper, quoting Major General Quassem Atta who is the head of Iraqi Army security operations in the Baghdad area, the man was arrested two weeks ago. It is said that he has conspired with al-Qaeda’s number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to launch the attacks during the sports spectacle in June and July.
The suspect, Abdullah Azzam Saleh Misfar al-Qahtani, holds a degree in business administration and graduated from the King Fahd Security College with the rank of lieutenant. He was also apprehended by the United States military in 2007 under the false name Muzawar al-Shammari and was released last year. Furthermore he is allegedly linked to various car bomb attacks in Najaf. They were aimed against worshippers at the Imam-Ali Mosque. The worst attack killed 80 people.
In Karbala he is also believed to have been behind a series of attacks on Shi’ite worshippers.
No information has been released on how the terror plans were to be executed and where. When the newspaper contacted the police, spokesman Vishnu Naidoo said he did not know about the arrest.
The media reports come after various attempts by South Africa’s police commissioner Bheki Cele to ease fears with regards to crime and terror attacks, promising the international community everyone would be safe.
He was recently quoted saying South Africa’s ” security plan looks at the smallest of issues, whether it be the protection of a soccer ball to the biggest form of criminality such as terrorism”. He added: “While no country can stand boldly and pronounce that it is immune from terrorism, what becomes critical is, should such an act occur, how do we respond? What makes us even more alert in our security planning is that South Africa will be hosting the whole world and therefore we will take no chances.”
The Citizen last week quoted Professor Hussein Solomon, head of the International Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of Pretoria. According to him a terror attack by al-Qaeda is possible: “We have a terrible rot in our Department of Home Affairs which, in many ways, is the root of all evil. South African passports and documents routinely turn up in the hands of criminals as well as Islamic terror cells,” he said.
But Iqbal Jassat of the Media Review Network attacked the credibility of Solomon. Jassat yesterday described Solomon as “discredited” and said there would be “no benefit for al- Qaeda to attack the Soccer World Cup”.
Jassat said: “Solomon sucks his facts out the air and we have repeatedly written to the University of Pretoria asking them how they allow this man to abuse the good name of their university to spread false information about Islam. We have been in touch with all sorts of people, including the National Intelligence Agency and they all say there is no evidence. Muslims are not soccer haters and want this World Cup to be a success.”
But Solomon repeated his earlier warnings, saying: “South African intelligence agencies are highly politicised and are totally committed to keeping Jacob Zuma in power, not to defending the constitution. Not enough attention has been paid to Islam-based terror organisations such as al-Qaeda and it’s affiliates. I am a practising Muslim myself and I am certainly not interested in denigrating my own religion or family. What I am saying is that al-Qaeda or one of its very many affiliates will attempt to target this World Cup.”
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