Washington: US and European security and intelligence agencies have launched a massive manhunt for a team of Al-Qaida commandos planning to carry out Mumbai-style terror attacks in European cities.
Disclosures by captured German Al-Qaida member Ahmed Sidiqi that a Mumbai-style terror attack may be in offing on the European mainland has unnerved American intelligence agencies.
American Media has reported that Western intelligence officials are extremely worried about a Mumbai-style attack if Al-Qaida chooses "softer" economic targets.
"We're so vulnerable in Europe and the United States," said CNN Terrorism Consultant Paul Cruickshank.
"Guns and ammunition can be concealed easily. They may be harder to access in Europe, but not impossible on the black market," he said.
"This new plot is perhaps an indication that Al-Qaida is trying to change its strategy," CNN's Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson was quoted as saying.
Following the revelation, US and European authorities are searching for the team of commandos planning attacks in Britain, France and Germany.
US law enforcement officials say they have been told the terrorists were planning a series of "Mumbai-style" raids on what were termed "economic or soft" targets.
"The American authorities are extremely nervous about what is going on, the Germans are extremely nervous about what's going on," Guido Steinberg, a counter-terrorism analyst at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, was quoted as saying by the ABC News.
"The advantage, of course, is the passport," said Steinberg, adding that "because with the German passport it's a lot easier to travel."
Travelers with German passports do not require a visa to enter the United States.
Steinberg said that many of the German jihadis who train in Pakistan are killed, "but those who come back are a threat... and they are a threat not only to Germany... but also to our allies and especially the US because they are extremely anti-American."
"Whatever maximizes visibility is what they're after," former US intelligence agent Bob Ayers told Fox News, adding "whatever instills the greatest fear in the greatest amount of people."
"We know Al-Qaida types are out there determined to attack targets in the West," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told 'Fox and Friends.
Story first published:
September 30, 2010 15:50 IST