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Al-Qaida in Europe claims responsibility for blasts

Mark Tran and Donald MacLeod
Thursday July 7, 2005

A group called The Secret Organisation of al-Qaida in Europe today said it carried out the series of blasts in London in retaliation for Britain's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The group's statement appeared on a website popular with Islamic militants, according to Elaph, a secular Arabic-language news website, and Der Spiegel magazine in Berlin, which both published the text on their sites.

The statement, which also threatened attacks against Italy and Denmark, said: "Rejoice, Islamic nation. Rejoice, Arab world. The time has come for vengeance against the Zionist crusader government of Britain in response to the massacres Britain committed in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The authenticity of the message could not be immediately confirmed, but al-Qaida in Europe also claimed responsibility for the last major terror attack in Europe: a string of bombs that hit commuter trains in Madrid, Spain, in March 2004 that killed 191 people.

The group appeared to boast that it had spent some time planning the attack.

"We have repeatedly warned the British government and people. We have fulfilled our promise and carried out our blessed military raid in Britain after our Mujahideen exerted strenuous efforts over a long period of time to ensure the success of the raid," the website posting read.

Michael Clarke, director of the Centre for Defence Studies at King's College, London, said six bombs would mean at least 24 people were involved in planting them in a targeted operation.

The fact that London had been hit when the resources of the security forces were focused on the G8 summit at Gleneagles showed thoughtful preparation by terrorists.

"It will have been quite a big plot and months in the planning," said Prof Clarke, who declined to speculate who was behind the attacks at this stage.

The danger of further explosions during the day could not be ruled out, he added. "The way to really bring a city to a halt is to explode some more bombs when the rescue services are running around."

Last month, Ken Jones, the chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers' terrorism committee and chief constable of Sussex, said Britain would remain a prime target for terrorists. "There is an inevitable targeting of the United Kingdom and UK interests abroad," Mr Jones told a conference on terrorism organised by the Royal United Services Institute in London. "The threat will endure for the foreseeable future."

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