The Obama administration will issue a warning Saturday to U.S. travelers in Europe to avoid places frequented by Westerners after new intelligence suggested an attack by Al- Qaeda could be imminent, says senior U.S. intelligence official.
FOX NEWS The move is expected to have significant implications for European tourism. The travel warning will advise Americans to stay away from European tourist sites, transportation hubs and other facilities because of fresh threat information, U.S. officials told the Associated Press.
A European official briefed on the talks told the Associated Press that the language in the U.S. alert is expected to be vague; it won’t address a specific country or specific landmarks. European and U.S. officials have not identified any specific targets that terrorists might be considering, the official said. Officials have called the threat credible but not specific.
The U.S. has told European leaders that the State Department alert would be intended to raise the warning level to match the information about the would-be attack that surfaced last week, the European official said..
Intelligence officials believe Usama Bin Laden is behind the terror plots to attack several European cities. If this is true, this would be the most involved role that bin Laden has played in plotting attacks since Sept. 11, 2001.
“It’s clear and the plot is clear. The clarity of detail on the plans for these attacks is disturbing,” the official told Fox News.
There was “some degree of coordination between the multiple teams of attackers targeting at least three Western European cities, but not all know when to hit,” the official said, adding the goal was to kill many, many more than the 173 killed in Mumbai.
Eight Germans and two British brothers are at the heart of the terror plot against European cities, but the plan is still in its early stages, with the suspects calling acquaintances in Europe to plan logistics, a Pakistani intelligence official said Thursday.
One of the Britons died in a recent CIA missile strike, he said. The Pakistani official said the suspects are hiding in North Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal region where militancy is rife and where the U.S. has focused many of its drone-fired missile strikes
For that reason, officials said, there was internal debate over how strong to make the warning. The State Department has several grades of travel notice, ranging from low-threat advisories to more severe alerts and a formal “travel warning.” There is also a “worldwide caution” in place that warns Americans of ongoing global terrorist threats.
Some U.S. allies in Europe have expressed concern about the proposed warning, saying it is an overreaction to the threat information, a position shared by some in the administration, the officials said.
Under a “no double standard” rule adopted after the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the government is obliged to share threat information that it has given diplomats and other officials with the general public.