NEW YORK – The risk of terror attacks in Europe is high and is increasing, France’s leading anti-terrorism judge said, warning that a recent alliance between al-Qaida and a North African terrorist group poses a grave threat.
The Salafist Group for Call and Combat, known by its French initials GSPC, staged seven nearly simultaneous attacks in Algeria on Tuesday, targeting police in several towns east of Algiers, killing six and injuring around 30, according to officials, police and hospital staff.
Al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa, the new name for the GSPC, claimed responsibility for the strikes.
“The GSPC wants to carry out attacks in Europe, especially in France, Italy and Spain, and destabilize North Africa,” Jean-Louis Bruguiere told The Associated Press on Tuesday night in New York.
French counterterrorism police arrested 11 suspects as part of efforts aimed at dismantling an alleged al-Qaida-linked recruiting network to send radical Islamic fighters to Iraq, police officials said Wednesday.
Nine suspects were detained in and near the southern city of Toulouse before dawn Wednesday, following the arrest of two others late Tuesday at Paris’ Orly airport, police said. The two had been sent home by Syrian authorities, investigators
Bruguiere said the threat to Europe is “pretty high.” France rates four on a scale of one to five, he said
He linked the increased threat level to the U.S.-led war on Iraq.
“Actors of jihad have become radicalized and have tried to demonstrate that their means have not been diminished since September 11,” he said.
So they were only mild to moderate jihadists before that?