MONTREAL — An Austrian-Canadian jihadist cell was targeting European politicians in addition to a number of physical targets in Austria and Switzerland, according to communications obtained by a terrorist watchdog group.
The SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based research organization that tracks and analyzes terrorist groups for corporate and government clients, said Thursday human beings were also among targets that included next June’s Euro 2008 soccer tournament.
“The member of the cell enumerated several physical targets to attack, specifically mentioning the Euro 2008 championships to be held in Austria and Switzerland, UN buildings in Vienna and Geneva, and OPEC’s headquarters in Vienna,” SITE said in a statement.
In addition, the individual also listed human targets, naming certain British, German and Austrian politicians.
SITE says there was no indication that any member of the cell was ready to carry out an attack or had the operational capabilities to do so.
“However, the individual did describe rough, general plans of how to carry out some of the attacks,” the release said.
The information comes as the alleged Canadian component to the cell made a brief court appearance in Montreal on Thursday.
Said Namouh, 34, who is charged with conspiring to bomb unspecified targets in Vienna, was arrested in the small Quebec rural town of Maskinonge last week as authorities in Austria and Canada swept down and arrested four people in a suspected international bomb plot.
One of the three alleged al-Qaida sympathizers was released in Vienna last Friday after a judge decided there was not sufficient evidence to justify his detention.
Two others, a couple in their early 20s, remain in custody in Austria.
Authorities identify the Austrian man still detained as Mohammed Mahmoud, the prime suspect and a leader of the Global Islamic Media Front, an al-Qaida propaganda group increasingly tied to terrorism operations.
Mahmoud’s name appears on a Canadian charge sheet filed in Montreal that says Namouh and Mahmoud conspired between March and September “for the purpose of delivering, placing, discharging or detonating an explosive in a place outside Canada.”
None of the allegations against Namouh has been proven in court.
The three people arrested in Europe were nabbed in connection with a video that surfaced in March threatening to attack Germany and Austria unless the two countries withdrew their troops from Afghanistan.
SITE says the incident “once again shows the nexus between those jihadists who produce propaganda and those who seek to carry out or facilitate terrorist attacks.”