Expert: Al-Qaeda Europe Ultimatum Order to Strike
CAIRO, July 19, 2005 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies)
An Egyptian expert in Islamic militant groups said Tuesday, July 19, the one-month ultimatum given to European countries to leave Iraq or face London-like attacks is actually an order to strike.
"The statement is an order to strike though it does not necessarily means that whoever issued it has actual practical tactics to do that," Diaa Rashwan told IslamOnline.net.
The Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, a self-styled group claiming affiliation to Al-Qaeda, threatened Tuesday more terrorist attacks in Europe unless European countries withdraw forces from Iraq, reported Agence France Presse (AFP).
"We want to give you a one-month deadline to bring your soldiers out from the land of Mesopotamia (Iraq)," read the statement dated July 16.
"It's a message we are addressing to the crusaders who are still present in Iraq -- Denmark, the Netherlands, Britain, Italy and those other countries whose troops continue to crisis-cross Iraqi territory."
A statement by the "Europe Division" of the same group has claimed responsibility for the July 7 attacks on London's public transport system which killed at least 56 people and wounded some 700.
Rashwan described the statement as "a media message to unknown local groups subscribing to the same ideology of Al-Qaeda in European countries that have troops in Iraq to carry out attacks that carry the hallmark of Al-Qaeda."
By sending such a message, Osama bin Laden is telling such local groups, which he most probably knows nothing about, that when they carry out such attacks they become part of his Al-Qaeda.
"This fulfills Laden's lifetime dream of being able to incite attacks against Western countries without even knowing the perpetrators."
The Egyptian expert cast serious doubts about the existence of a group called Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades.
"The group has claimed responsibility for attacks in Turkey and Spain and an electricity outage in the United States, where it can hardly have presence," he said.
Rashwan said the attacks were likely carried out by groups that "subscribe to Al-Qaeda's ideology."
The Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades takes its name from an Al-Qaeda commander killed during the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001.
It previously gave European countries an ultimatum to pull out of Iraq in April, 2004, a month after the Madrid attacks.
Following the expiry of a three-month deadline, the group issued a further statement in August threatening to strike those European countries that continued to attack Muslims and interfere in their domestic affairs.