A US terror alert issued this week about al-Qaida plots to attack targets in western Europe was politically motivated and not based on credible new information, senior Pakistani diplomats and European intelligence officials have told the Guardian.
The non-specific US warning, which despite its vagueness led Britain, France and other countries to raise their overseas terror alert levels, was an attempt to justify a recent escalation in US drone and helicopter attacks inside Pakistan that have « set the country on fire », said Wajid Shamsul Hasan, the high commissioner to Britain.
Hasan, a veteran diplomat who is close to Pakistan’s president, suggested the Obama administration was playing politics with the terror threat before next month’s mid-term congressional elections, in which the Republicans are expected to make big gains.
Dismissing claims of a developed, co-ordinated plot aimed at Britain, France and Germany, European intelligence officials also pointed the finger at the US, and specifically at the White House. « To stitch together [the terror plot claims] in a seamless narrative is nonsensical, » said one well-placed official.
By making it clear that the US drone strikes were pre-emptive, and were not in any way combating an imminent threat, European officials raised fresh questions – this time directly involving a British national – about the legality of the attacks, which could be viewed as assassinations.