'Al-Qaeda' group claims London attacks

A group calling itself the Organisation of al-Qaeda Jihad in Europe, also identified in some reports as the Secret Organisation of al-Qaeda in Europe, claimed Thursday’s attacks in London and threatened similar strikes in Italy, Denmark and other “Crusader” states with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The attacks, which left at least 33 people dead and scores injured in blasts that ripped through London underground trains and a bus, have prompted the United States and European states to boost security and raise anti-terror alerts.

“Heroic Mujahedins carried out a sacred attack in London, and here is Britain burning in fear, terror and fright in the north, south, east and west,” said a statement posted on the internet, which could not be authenticated.

The previously unknown group said the attacks were “in response to the massacres carried out by Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

“We have repeatedly warned the government and people of Britain, and we have now fulfilled our promise and have carried out a sacred military attack in Britain,” it said.

“We continue to warn the governments of Denmark, Italy and all the Crusaders that they will meet the same punishment if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The group addressed the Arab and Islamic world, saying “it is time to take revenge from the Crusader and Zionist government in Britain, in retaliation for the massacres that Britain is committing in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

Britain is Washington’s strongest ally in military operations in the Middle East and maintains more than 7 500 troops in Iraq, where the US coalition is facing a relentless and bloody insurgency.

Italy, another main strategic ally of Washington, has been deploying 3 000 soldiers in Iraq since June 2003 as part of the US-led military coalition, and maintains a military presence in Afghanistan.

Denmark has deployed about 530 troops in Iraq, most of them in the Basra region under British command, and has a lighter deployment in Afghanistan.

Many of the attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan have been claimed by al-Qaeda groups against which the US-led forces have been launching major military offensives.

The al-Qaeda terror network, headed by Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden, claimed responsibility for the September 11 2001 attacks on the New York World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed nearly 3 000 people.

In November 2003, a massive bomb blast claimed by the al-Qaeda terror network on the Italian military base in Nasiriyah in southern Iraq left 19 Italians and nine Iraqis dead.

The Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades al-Qaeda organisation, which has repeatedly issued threats against Italy, claimed responsibility for the March 2004 train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people.

That same group also took credit for the November 2003 bombings in Istanbul that killed 25 people and attacks in August last year targeting tourist hotels and a gas complex in the Turkish city that killed two people.

Abu Hafs al-Masri was the head of al-Qaeda military operations until he was killed in the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Al-Qaeda-linked groups have also abducted and often executed foreigners in Iraq and Afghanistan, including British and Italian nationals who were beheaded.—AFP

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