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Factbox: Europe terror alert: Likely suspected groups

WASHINGTON/LONDON (Reuters) - The United States and Britain warned their citizens on Sunday of an increased risk of terrorist attacks in Europe, with Washington saying al Qaeda might target transport infrastructure.

Here are some of the Islamist militant groups who are most likely involved in the plot, which intelligence sources have said originates with militants based in Pakistan.

Experts say some militant groups Pakistan occasionally cooperate with each other in supporting or executing attacks and it is possible that the latest plot may involve individuals from more than one organization.


Al Qaeda is seen as the militant group that poses the more serious international threat because it is has highly experienced bombmakers and a long-established transnational networks of financial, logistical and ideological support.

Though the militant group led by Osama bin Laden was weakened after the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, it has survived by deepening its alliances to local militants in the Afghan-Pakistan border area where he is believed to be hiding and by cultivating affiliate groups in other regions.

Bin Laden, top operatives and militant allies from Central Asia, Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere are believed to be in the lawless border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan, described by Washington as the global hub of militants.

Though many of al Qaeda’s top operatives were killed or captured by the United States and its allies in the nine year war, bin Laden and his second-in-command, Ayman al Zawahri, have remained at large and vowed to continue their fight.

In an audiotape released in January, bin Laden claimed responsibility for the December 25 failed bombing of a U.S-bound plane and said it was a continuation of al Qaeda policy since the September 11 attacks.

In Washington, U.S. officials said Osama bin Laden and the top al Qaeda leadership were likely behind the plot.


The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban, is the organization most influenced by al Qaeda and focuses on attacking the Pakistani state, which it considers illegitimate.

The group has claimed responsibility for several commando-style strikes, including one on a police academy in Lahore in 2009 that killed eight cadets and wounded scores.

The group in recent months has made several threats against American and European targets.

Wali-ur-Rehman, a top commander, in a recent video interview reaffirmed TTP’s ties to al Qaeda, vowing to fight for the imposition of Islamic law across the world..

On September 1, U.S. prosecutors charged the group’s leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, for his role in a suicide attack that killed seven CIA employees at a U.S. base in Afghanistan last December.

Hakimullah was also charged with conspiracy to kill Americans overseas and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.

The United States this month added the TTP to its list of foreign terrorist organizations and announced $5 million bounties for Hakimullah and Rehman. The would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shehzad, received training with TTP in Waziristan.


Lashkar-e-Taiba is a Pakistan-based militant group blamed for the 2008 coordinated attacks on the Indian financial capital, Mumbai, that killed 166 people.

Some intelligence sources have said they feared the planned attacks in Europe might seek to replicate the pattern of the Mumbai assault in which 10 attackers randomly killed people at several places before nine were killed by Indian forces.

Lashkar-e-Taiba’s activities have mainly been focused against India, but Western analysts say it enjoys support and funding in the Pakistani diaspora and it could exploit this network for attacks in the West.

It has been linked to militant activities in the West, like a visit by one of the London underground suicide bombers in 2005 to Lashkar’s Muridke headquarters near Lahore, though British police found no evidence of the group’s involvement in the attack.

The group was banned in Pakistan after it was blamed for an attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001, but analysts say its cadres are tolerated because of their perceived close ties with Pakistani intelligence agencies.

(Reporting by Zeeshan Haider in Islamabad, William Maclean in London and Phil Stewart in Washington; editing by Myra MacDonald)

For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: here.