PARIS (Reuters) - The international police agency Interpol warned governments worldwide on Thursday of an increased risk of attacks on innocent people if the planned burning of the Koran by an obscure U.S. clergyman went ahead.
Terry Jones, leader of a Protestant church of about 30 members in Gainesville, Florida, plans to burn copies of the Islamic holy book on Saturday, the anniversary of the September 11 attacks which this year coincides with the Muslim Eid holiday.
“If the proposed Koran burning by a pastor in the U.S. goes ahead as planned, there is a strong likelihood that violent attacks on innocent people would follow,” Interpol said in a statement, adding that it was acting partly on a request from Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik asked the agency to warn national police of an “increased terror threat” if the burning takes place on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, it said.
“Given that we have been made aware of a significant threat to public safety — an assessment which we share — it is our duty to ensure that we pass this information on to law enforcement agencies around the globe so that they can take appropriate measures,” said Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.
Noble said there were no specific details of what forms the attacks might take, but he warned the Koran-burning would have “tragic consequences.”
Interpol requested any country aware of a specific threat to contact its headquarters urgently. Staff at its 24-hour command center will be placed on alert, it said.
U.S. President Barack Obama warned on Thursday that the pastor’s plan could provoke al Qaeda suicide bombings and the governments of India and Indonesia urged him to stop the burning.
Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton