Al-Qaeda targeting European rail networks

Al-Qaeda targeting European rail networksCalling into question statements by the U.S. administration that al-Qaeda is on the run, a new report reveals that the organization is now actively planning attacks on the high speed rail network in Europe.

The reports comes from the German mass circulation daily Bild, who reported it had received the information form intelligence sources.  According to the Bild the Muslim terrorist group could plant explosives on trains and tunnels as well as sabotage tracks and electrical cabling.

Bild said the information came from the United States National Security Agency and was part of the information they learned from listening in on a conference call of al-Qaeda leaders that led the U.S. government to order the closing of scores of its embassies and consulates throughout the Middle East two weeks ago.

According to Bild, the attacks on Europe’s rail networks were a “central topic” of the conference call.

German authorities have responded to the threat by implementing discreet measures such as the deployment of plain clothes police officers at key stations and on main routes.

U.S. media outlets reported the information came after intelligence sources were able to intercept a conference call earlier this month between Ayman al-Zahawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda and 20 other operatives who are part of the group’s global network. The information received on the call resulted in the closure of American embassies throughout the Muslim world in order to alleviate fears of a major attack.

While political leaders in both parties in the U.S. praised the move to close the embassies saying they believed the treat was credible, some have criticized the government for releasing that the information was released from listening in on a telephone conference call.

Talk show radio giant Rush Limbaugh said while it was one thing to release information about the threat the Obama administration was simply trying to score political points by revealing how it learned the information to take pressure off of criticism over the NSA scandal.

“Now all the terrorists have learned that in the future not to discuss this information on a conference call,” Limbaugh said. He went on to note that while he was not disputing the threat, he found the timing of it interesting since it came during a time when president Obama has faced increasing pressure from members of both parties over the organization’s overreach by collecting data on the phone conversations of nearly all Americans.

The author of the Patriot Act, Rep. James Sensenbrenner has said information that has come out about the NSA’s data collection efforts have gone far beyond what Congress intended when it passed the law.

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About the author

Ryan Burgas is a regular contributor covering business and finance topics.