Saudis warn Paris: New threat of al-Qaida terror attack

French minister says Saudi intelligence warned of potential attack by terror group from Arabian Peninsula on "European continent, notably France."

October 18, 2010 10:12
1 minute read.
Eiffel Tower Police

Eiffel Tower terror 311 AP. (photo credit: Associated Press)

PARIS — Saudi intelligence services warned of a new terror threat from al-Qaida against Europe, particularly in France, the country's Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said on Sunday during a joint TV and radio interview.

The warning of a potential attack by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was received "in the last few hours, few days," Hortefeux said on RTL-LCI-Le Figaro's weekly talk show.

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European officials were informed that "al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was doubtless active or envisioned being active" on the "European continent, notably France," he added. "The threat is real."

The warning from Saudi Arabia is the latest in a series of alerts that have put French security forces and others in high-vigilance mode.

On September 9, Interpol, the international police organization, signaled an "Islamist threat on a world scale, and notably on the European continent," Hortefeux said without elaborating. That was followed by a September 16 report of a woman suicide bomber who could take action in France — later judged not fully credible.

Intelligence sources in North Africa also contacted France about a potential threat as did the United States, he said. He said he had spoken at length with US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

It was the first time a French official has offered details about potential threats since mid-September, when officials first publicly invoked the possibility that France could be a target of radical Islamist groups.

"We must not overestimate the threat or underestimate it," the minister said. "We are directly concerned."

No one could be reached at the Saudi Interior Ministry late Sunday.

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