/ 21 May 2010

No World Cup terror threat, says Fifa

No World Cup Terror Threat

No terror threats against the World Cup have been uncovered by any intelligence agency working with Fifa, despite claims of an al-Qaeda plot in Iraq, the football governing body said on Thursday.

“For the time being, we haven’t received [information about] any threat against the World Cup from any of the intelligence agencies we are working with,” Fifa’s secretary general Jerome Valcke said.

“We are working very well with Interpol and with the police departments of each of the 32 participating countries” to ensure the security of the event, he told the Foreign Correspondents Association in Johannesburg.

“I hope the world will be calm” during the World Cup, which kicks off on June 11, he added.

An Iraqi security spokesperson said on Monday that a 30-year-old Saudi man arrested two weeks ago had “participated in the planning of a terrorist act in South Africa during the World Cup.”

Reports indicated the man had taken part in planning attacks against the Danish and Dutch teams in response to perceived insults against the prophet Muhammad in Denmark and the Netherlands.

The Netherlands said on Thursday it had received intelligence reports of “a threat against Dutch interests in South Africa” and amended its terror alert for travel to the World Cup host nation.

“We received information from our intelligence services … of a threat against Dutch interests in South Africa,” during the World Cup, foreign ministry spokesperson Ozlem Canel said.

The Danish embassy in Pretoria said Danish security officials were working closely with their South African counterparts to address any threat.

“This is a collaboration that has increased in connection with the World Cup,” said Danish ambassador Dan Frederiksen.

“You’ll have Danish police being in South Africa and also people from the Danish intelligence service being in South Africa working closely with their South African counterparts [during the World Cup].”

South African intelligence officials said Thursday they were still gathering information to determine the accuracy of the report.

“We are still working on the matter. The information that we have at our disposal is still not leading us to a decisive conclusion on whether or not it is true,” Brian Dube, spokesperson for the intelligence services ministry, told the South African Press Association. — Sapa-AFP