Drone attacks on Taliban targets in Pakistan continue to escalate. According to breaking news reports, Pakistani intelligence officials indicate eight German nationals being trained by the Taliban were killed in the most recent attack late Sunday night or early Monday morning.
The reported hit on a mosque in Mir Ali in North Waziristan coincided with new warnings from the US, Britain, and Japan related to the possibility of terrorist attacks, especially in Britain, Germany and France. According to Spiegel Online, “Intelligence and law enforcement officers in both the US and Europe have said that the information regarding the alleged terror plot was obtained during the interrogation of a German arrested in summer on suspicions of terrorism. He was allegedly on his way to Europe when he was detained and is now being held at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.”
Both German and French officials have, however, sought to discourage over-reaction. According to Deutche Welle, the German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizier said, “There are currently no indications of any immediate threat of attacks planned against Germany. There is no reason whatsoever to be alarmist at the moment.”
Last week the recent increase in US drone attacks inside Pakistan was tied to an effort to disrupt planned Mumbai-type attacks on European cities. (See earlier related post by Homeland Security Watch.) Late Saturday, ABC News headlined that terrorist teams are already poised to strike. “The current concerns are for scenarios that include opening fire at airports in Europe as well as executing similar attacks at “soft” targets like tourist attractions or hotels. According to ABC News sources, the terror plotters have moved through the surveillance stage, checked back in with al Qaeda in Pakistan, and have received the go-ahead to strike.”
Both British and Pakistani intelligence officials have estimated that “dozens” of Europeans are currently being trained by the Taliban. There have been several threats by the Taliban-in-Pakistan to launch attacks against European and US targets.
Late Monday the Telegraph is reporting,” Terrorist cells have already been sent to Britain and Germany to launch Mumbai style terrorist attacks, an al-Qaeda commander has claimed.”
CORRECTION? Subsequent reports by the BBC, (and others) indicate the suspected terrorists in Mir Ali were killed when the drone hit a private home, not a mosque.
Some later reports are referencing five — rather than eight — Germans being killed. In any case, the accuracy of such reports can vary widely. The information almost always depends on paid informants inside the Taliban zone of control.
TUESDAY MORNING UPDATE: About 4:30AM Eastern The Guardian reports that “at least five” Germans were killed when the drone “fired two missiles into a tribesman’s house.” The BBC is reporting the bodies of the Germans (maybe only four) have been removed by the Taliban.
The escalated drone campaign combined with European travel alerts has increased public attention to the terrorist threat very much alive in Pakistan. The Guardian’s report raises the obvious question:
While European officials are taking the US and British alerts seriously, there is speculation among people familiar with the intelligence material about the reasons for the timing of the alarms. “The threat was real, obviously, and it’s not over,” said a European source. “But why it’s been put on the market in this way is a different issue.”