Wednesday: In Europe, Terror Plot Uncovered, Anti-Austerity Protests

BY Tom LeGro  September 29, 2010 at 10:20 AM EDT

British police officers

British police officers on patrol in London on Wednesday. Photo by Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images.

Security officials is Europe say a terror plot to wage a shooting spree in Britain, France and Germany is still a threat and authorities are monitoring sites in Pakistan where the threat originated.

Intelligence agents intercepted the threat two weeks ago, reports the Associated Press, prompting U.S. forces to increase drone missile strikes against al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan.

Similar to the attacks carried out in Mumbai in 2008, the would-be attackers reportedly planned to operate in small teams of heavily armed gunmen who would capture and execute Western hostages.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that information about the possible attack may have first come from a German terror suspect detained in July:

“Authorities detained the suspect, a 36-year-old man known as Ahmad S. from Hamburg, while he was allegedly trying to fly from Kabul to Europe. He is currently being held in a detention facility at Bagram Airfield, one of the biggest NATO bases in Afghanistan, reports Germany’s Der Spiegel.”

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner writes:

“The fact that details have leaked out through the U.S. media is a mixed blessing for Western security officials. On the one hand, the supposed plotters will now be unlikely to go ahead as planned. But on the other, it has probably wrecked any chances of making arrests and bringing suspects to trial.”

It was reported Tuesday that the C.I.A. was increasing drone bombings in Pakistan as a response the possible threats against European sites.

Meantime, Pakistan dismissed the intelligence reports.

“We don’t have any credible information from sources that any such planning is taking place or terrorists are planning anything in North Waziristan,” military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told Agence France-Presse.

In other terrorism related news, NATO has confirmed that an al-Qaeda commander in the Kunar province of Afghanistan was killed in air strike last weekend, and jury selection is set to begin for first Guantanamo detainee to be tried in U.S. federal courts.

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, an alleged bomb maker, is charged with conspiring to kill Americans in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. The attacks killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans.

Anti-Austerity Protests Break Out in Europe

Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through Brussels toward European Union buildings Wednesday to protest budget-slashing, tax-hiking and pension-cutting austerity plans that European governments have implemented to try to control their debt.

Strikes or protests were also taking place in Spain, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia and Lithuania.

The Guardian is live blogging the protests here, with reports, videos, photos and maps.