Iraq: Bomb plot revealed

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi authorities have obtained confessions from captured insurgents who claim al-Qaida is planning suicide attacks in the United States and Europe during the Christmas season, two senior officials said Wednesday.

A senior U.S. intelligence official confirmed the threat as credible.

Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told The Associated Press that the botched bombing in central Stockholm last weekend was among the alleged plots the insurgents revealed. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, in a telephone interview from New York, called the claims “a critical threat.”

Both al-Bolani and Zebari said Iraq has informed Interpol of the alleged plots, and alerted authorities in the U.S. and European countries of the possible danger. Neither official specified which country or countries in Europe are alleged targets.

There was no way to verify the insurgents’ claims. But Western counterterrorism officials generally are on high alert during the holiday season, especially since last year’s failed attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called underwear bomber, who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

Al-Bolani said several insurgents claimed to be part of a cell that took its orders directly from al-Qaida’s central leadership. He said at least one of the captured suspects was a foreign fighter from Tunisia.

The confessions were the result of recent operations by Iraqi security forces that have netted at least 73 suspected operatives in the last two weeks, al-Bolani said.

An Iraqi intelligence official said threat information appeared to indicate that Denmark might be attacked, but refused to give details. Similarly, a senior U.S. intelligence official in Washington said authorities were closely watching two people in an unspecified European country suspected of being linked to the plot.

The people did not appear to be so-called homegrown terrorists, according to the U.S. official who would not say where they were believed to be from.

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