Thursday, September 30, 2010

India News --- Ayodhya

Ayodhya verdict: Both sides to move SC
Nath Bhatt , Sanjay Singh 

Posted: Fri Oct 01 2010, 09:32 hrsUpdated: Fri Oct 01 2010, 09:40 hrsLucknow:

Sunni Waqf Board counsel Zafaryab Jilani on Thursday termed the Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ayodhya title suits as “disappointing” and said they would move the Supreme Court against the order.
“We have three months, we will certainly move the Supreme Court,” Jilani told reporters. He said the verdict was “against the settled principles of law and evidence adduced by the Muslim side”.

The court dismissed the Waqf Board’s claim by a 2-1 majority.

“We are of the firm view that no public resentment is required as the matter can be taken to the Supreme Court and there is no reason for any loss of hope in favour of the mosque,” Jilani said, adding the majority decision to give Muslims one-third land was not acceptable to the Waqf Board.

He said they would examine the text of the judgment in detail and discuss the matter with the All India Muslim Personal law Board and the Babri Masjid Action Committee.

“We hope that peace and tranquility will be maintained throughout the country and the issue will not be taken to the streets by anyone”.

Asked about the scope of an amicable solution through reconciliation and mediation, he said the majority judgment directed that the mosque and temple can co-exist.

Jilani said they were not going to surrender the land. “Such matters can be solved through courts. We will accept the final verdict of the Supreme Court,” Jilani said.

Nyas to move SC, says ‘no question of victory or loss’

Although the telecast of the Ayodhya verdict was greeted with “Jai Shri Ram” and “Ram Lalla, we will come and construct the temple at the disputed site” by dozens of VHP cadres and supporters, who had started assembling at the Karsewakpuram, the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas asserted that “it was not a question of victory or defeat for any section of society” and that they would challenge the judgment in the Supreme Court.

“First we will see how the High Court has given one portion of the land to the Sunni Central Waqf Board. Then we will challenge the High Court’s verdict in the Supreme Court. The decision on the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya is possible only after the verdict of the Supreme Court,” said Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, chairman of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, earlier headed by Paramhans Ram Chandra Das. “It is not a question of victory or defeat for any section of society. There is no need for grand celebrations by the Hindus over the court’s judgment. If at all, they want to rejoice over the court’s verdict, they should do it inside their place of residence.”

However, the Nyas, affiliated to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, maintained the verdict had vindicated the stand of the Hindus that a temple existed at the disputed site and it was Lord Ram’s birthplace.

“We are happy that the High Court has recognised the historical fact that the Ramjanmabhoomi temple existed at the disputed site. We are also pleased that the court respected the faith and sentiments of the vast majority of Hindus that the Ram Janmabhoomi temple existed at the disputed site and also the right of Hindus to perform puja at the temple,” said the Mahant.

Asking all sections of society to respect the court’s verdict, the Mahant said, “Muslims should also respect the court verdict as they had been favouring all along the court’s verdict instead of settlement through negotiations.”

“The court’s verdict has upheld the report of the Archeological Survey of India and also the contention of the Hindus that the temple existed at the disputed site,” he said. “Islam also does not permit the construction of the mosque at the disputed land.”

On the trust plans to initiate the process of temple construction at the site, the Mahant said, “I wish to make no comment on this issue. The High Court’s verdict is the first step towards the process of construction of the temple, but the option of the Supreme Court is open.”  (indian express)


Russia thwarts twin attacks in Caucasus
October 1, 2010 - 3:59AM
Russian security forces have deactivated two potentially devastating bombs, one mysteriously attached to a dead body, in a city on the fringes of the troubled Northern Caucasus region.

One bomb was attached to the body in a car parked near a cafe in the southern city of Stavropol, a regional centre to the north of the Caucasus mountains, an area dogged by a deadly Islamist insurgency, the National Anti-Terrorist Committee (NAC) said.

Police later found another bomb nearby, disguised to look like a pile of garbage. Both bombs were deactivated, "preventing a major act of terror", the committee said on Thursday.
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The police "found about 60kg of explosive mixture of ammonium nitrate, aluminium powder, batteries, wire and car alarm components" in the car, the NAC said.

The body in the car, with marks of beating, belonged to 43-year-old Gennady Tolboyev, a local taxi driver, Russian news agencies said. There was no immediate explanation over why the bomb had been attached to a corpse.

Another device, made of a gas canister filled with explosives and pieces of metal, was found about 40 metres away. The explosives in the second bomb had a 30-kg TNT equivalent, the NAC statement said.

Residents of two apartment buildings and pupils at a school were evacuated from the scene, which is in a residential area close to the centre.

The Stavropol region borders the restive Northern Caucasus and the city was hit by a bomb attack outside a cultural centre that killed seven and wounded dozens in May.

The Kremlin has been fighting insurgents in the Northern Caucasus since after the collapse of the Soviet Union, waging a war in 1994-1996 against separatist rebels in Chechnya.

However, after a second war broke out in Chechnya in 1999, the rebellion's inspiration moved towards Islam with the aim of imposing an Islamic state in the region.

Although the war ended in 2000, rebels have waged an increasingly deadly insurgency with unrest spreading into other areas of the Northern Caucasus.
© 2010 AFP (
======================================================   2010-09-30 14:23:30

KABUL, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- Taliban outfit fighting Afghan and NATO-led troops in the post-Taliban Afghanistan has once again rejected Afghan government's offer for dialogue and reconciliation through the recently formed High Council for Peace, stressing no talks will take place in the presence of foreign troops, a statement released to media by the outfit on Thursday said.
"Such so-called shuras or council can do nothing without the advisor of foreigners and U.S. by supporting such councils wants to change the public opinion," the Taliban statement said.
It also described the NATO-led troops in Afghanistan as an occupying one and noted that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan ( the name of ousted Taliban regime) would continue its war against the occupying foraging forces till their eviction from the country.
The Taliban outfit in another statement also rebuffed the remarks of NATO-led forces commander in Afghanistan General David Petraeus in which he said days ago the Taliban high ranking officials had contacted Afghan government.
It stressed that Taliban had not contacted the Afghan administration and believe the solution of Afghanistan problems lies in the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and not in initiating secret contacts. (news, xinhua)

Al Queda group --- French Hostages.

DAKAR, Senegal — A tape released Thursday on a jihadist forum shows the first images of a group of hostages including five French citizens since they were seized two weeks ago in Niger by an al-Qaida offshoot and taken into the desert.
The four-minute tape shows still images of the hostages sitting cross-legged in the sand with a gently sloping dune behind them. French officials believe the seven hostages are now in the bordering West African nation of Mali.
The hostages were grabbed in the middle of the night on Sept. 16 from their guarded villas in the uranium mining town of Arlit in Niger where they were working for French nuclear giant Areva.
The French Foreign Ministry said the tape was encouraging because its images show the hostages alive.
"Even if we don't know what date it was taken, it constitutes an encouraging sign in the sense that it shows all the hostages alive," a ministry statement said, adding that France "is doing everything to obtain their liberation."
The tape's release came as top officials from Areva began a visit to Niger, and Areva's president said she was deeply moved by the pictures and also considered them encouraging.
"They moved all of us because we are all a little bit hostages with them and at the same time I believe that this is an encouraging sign, very encouraging," Anne Lauvergeon told reporters in the Niger capital, Niamey. French TV carried her comments.
If the company or the governments of Niger or France had known something ahead of time, "everyone would have acted," she said. "We don't play with the lives of our employees."
The tape was an audio recording accompanied by still images. Standing behind the hostages are men brandishing automatic weapons who are wearing the face-covering turbans typical of the Tuaregs, a nomadic people who live in the Sahara desert and who are believed to be working with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
During the recording, the hostages are questioned about their names, ages and marital status, according to the translation provided to reporters by U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group.
Five of the hostages are French citizens; the other two are from Togo and Madagascar. They are also asked if they know who their kidnappers are, and acknowledge the kidnappers are al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM.
The terror group has its roots in an extremist Islamic group in Algeria that brokered an alliance with al-Qaida in 2006.
Since then, AQIM has kidnapped more than a dozen Europeans including tourists and aid workers. The group is believed to be using the ransom payments to bankroll their operations and with each kidnapping their tactics have become more bold.
The attack on the Areva compound in Niger is their most daring to date. The heavily armed gunmen were able to get past the town's security cordon which includes 350 of Niger's troops as well as 150 security guards hired by Areva.
In the tape produced by AQIM's media arm, al-Andalus Media Foundation, they explain that the kidnapping came in the "context of retaliation." It is a reference to a joint French-Mauritanian raid on an AQIM base in Mali earlier this summer that killed at least six members of the terror cell.
Soon after the raid in July, AQIM announced they had assassinated French hostage Michel Germaneau, a 78-year-old aid worker who had been seized in Niger in April. The tape warns that the French — who have sent a regiment of soldiers to Niger — should not attempt another rescue mission as they had done for Germaneau.
The French defense minister had said that France was willing and interested in talking to the terror group.
The al-Qaida-linked group has invaded large swaths of the desert region spanning portions of Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Algeria. Famous tourists spots like Timbuktu are now on the no-go list of numerous foreign embassies, including the U.S. and France.
Experts say the group has made inroads by creating strategic alliances with disenfranchised groups that inhabit these remote desert areas — like the Tuareg who have taken up arms against the governments of Mali and Niger over claims they were not receiving an equal share of the countries' resources including profits from uranium mining in Niger.

U.S. Presses Israelis on Renewal of Freeze

This article is by Mark LandlerHelene Cooper and Ethan Bronner

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is trying to cajole the Israeli government into a 60-day renewal of the freeze on Jewish settlement building by offering it security guarantees, ranging from military hardware to support for a long-term Israeli presence in the strategically sensitive Jordan Valley, according to lawmakers and other officials briefed on the proposals.
Atef Safadi/European Pressphoto Agency
George J. Mitchell, left the Obama administration’s Middle East envoy, with Saeb Erekat, the senior Palestinian negotiator, on Thursday in Ramallah.
But with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so far resisting the administration’s entreaties, the United States is also weighing a fallback plan, officials said, that could involve reaching out to thePalestinians with a pledge to formally endorse one of their central demands for the borders of a future Palestinian state.
The American proposals to Israel came amid a frenzy of diplomatic horse-trading, with the administration maneuvering furiously to keep the talks alive while Mr. Netanyahu appeared to be trying to extract a high price for acquiescing on settlements. The Palestinians have threatened to walk away from the talks if Israel does not renew its freeze on construction, something Mr. Netanyahu has ruled out.
Adding to the pressure is a meeting in Cairo next week of the Arab League, at which thePalestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, has promised to deliver a speech in which he will “declare historical decisions.” That sparked rumors that he might threaten to resign, something he has done before.
For now, the administration’s focus remains on Mr. Netanyahu, whom American officials hope they can persuade to renew the freeze, with the understanding that Washington will ask for no further extensions. The administration’s special envoy to the region, George J. Mitchell, met with Mr. Netanyahu on Wednesday and plans to meet him again before seeing Mr. Abbas on Friday.
Details of the American offer were first reported in the Israeli news media, and widely disseminated in Washington in an essay by David Makovsky, a Middle East analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The White House denied Thursday that President Obama had sent a letter with proposals to Mr. Netanyahu. It declined to comment further on the negotiations.
But on Wednesday, the White House’s senior Middle East advisers, Dennis B. Ross and Daniel B. Shapiro, briefed Democratic representatives on Capitol Hill about what Mr. Ross described as a “string of assurances in return for a two-month moratorium,” according to people who were in the meeting.
These would include additional military equipment — missile systems, aircraft, and satellites — a pledge to help Israel enforce a ban on the smuggling of weapons through a Palestinian state, and a promise to help forge a regional security agreement that would defend Israel against the threat posed by Iran.
Mr. Netanyahu has brushed aside these offers, officials said. For him, said an Israeli official, the political necessity of standing firm on settlements outweighs any security incentives offered by the United States.
“These are wonderful proposals, but because of the political realities, we can’t even have this discussion,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the talks. “It’s a question of what else can be offered.”
Mr. Netanyahu has broached the possibility that the United States release Jonathan Jay Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst who pleaded guilty to spying for Israel in 1986 and was sentenced to life in prison. Mr. Pollard is a heroic figure in the settlements; winning his release would be a coup for Mr. Netanyahu and could allow him to justify extending the freeze.
But President Bill Clinton rejected a request by Mr. Netanyahu to release Mr. Pollard in 1998, when the prime minister used it as a bargaining chip during previous peace talks. There is little evidence that Mr. Obama would do any different.
Representative Gary L. Ackerman of New York, who was in the briefing, said the length of an extension is another sticking point: the administration is pushing for two months, while Mr. Netanyahu has indicated that he is not willing to go beyond one month, if he agrees at all. If Mr. Netanyahu does accept the administration’s proposal, the hope is that the Israelis and Palestinians would get far enough in two months of negotiations — perhaps even tackling the contentious issue of the borders of a Palestinian state — that neither would want to walk away once the moratorium expired again.
Mr. Abbas said he would consult with the Palestinian movement and the Arab League before deciding his next move. The Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee is scheduled to meet Saturday. The Arab League, originally planning a Monday meeting, has delayed it until Wednesday.
But word of the speech by Mr. Abbas has deepened the unease in Jerusalem and Washington. A Palestinian spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said he did not know what Mr. Abbas planned to say, but that talk of his resignation was only speculation.
The administration has not yet made a proposal to the Palestinians, according to a Palestinian official. But if Mr. Netanyahu turns down the United States, officials said, Mr. Obama could provide the Palestinians with their own assurance: his formal endorsement of a plan under which Israel’s pre-1967 borders, with land swaps, would form the baseline for negotiations over territory.
Some Palestinians point out that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other American officials, in their public statements, have all but embraced the idea of using the 1967 borders, making a formal endorsement of that position no grand gesture.
Still, that could increase the pressure on Israel; Israeli officials have long fretted that once Mr. Obama puts American parameters on the table, the Palestinians will refuse to accept anything less. And the White House has said that it will wait until negotiations get going before offering any bridging proposals.
Many Palestinians seemed incensed that Israel would get anything more from the United States in exchange for freezing settlements, which are widely regarded as illegal.
“It is like giving a prize to a thief,” said Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian politician. “Palestinians want to see their president stand up and say enough is enough.”
Mark Landler and Helene Cooper reported from Washington, and Ethan Bronner from Jerusalem. (new york times)

Nigeria News --- Abduction of 15 school children.

ABA, Nigeria — Parents of children who were kidnapped when gunmen hijacked their school bus in southern Nigeria begged for their release on Thursday as troops patrolled the city where the attack occurred.
The parents of some of the 15 children abducted on Monday said they could not afford the huge ransom demanded for their release following the incident that has shocked the country.
"Government should help us," David Ezeribe, 38, who said three of his children aged six, four and three were abducted, told reporters. "The kids had only a slice of bread when they left home for school on Monday.
"For God's sake, please release these children to come back to me."
He said he could not pay the 20 million naira (128,900 dollars, 95,650 euros) ransom "even if I sell all my property and business."
Ndudi Ihesieme, 35, said two of his children aged four and three were taken in the hijacking.
"There is no more peace in my home," he said. "Please release my children. They are innocent."
A woman who said she was representing the nursery and primary school, Ogechi James, told the same news conference organised by a community leader that the the kidnappers had rejected an offer of 100,000 naira.
Troops and police could be seen moving throughout the city of Aba in armoured vehicles, and a number of residents were leaving because of security fears.
A police officer called the joint patrols routine, but much of the city has also shut down amid fears of further such attacks, with a spate of kidnappings having already occurred in Abia state, where Aba is located.
"It's for general security," the officer said on condition of anonymity. "For the kidnapping, the search is on."
The hijacking on Monday signalled a disturbing escalation in the spate of kidnappings that had already provoked fear in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, while also drawing widespread condemnation in Nigeria.
A Nigerian newspaper on Thursday quoted the police commissioner of Abia state in the country's oil-rich south, where the hijacking occurred, as saying confusion over negotiating terms had delayed the children's release.
Both parents and school authorities were negotiating with the abductors, Jonathan Johnson said, according to ThisDay newspaper. Neither the commissioner nor his spokesman could be reached Thursday.
He also said police were moving cautiously to keep the children from being harmed.
National police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu said he had no further updates on the efforts to free the children and could not confirm the newspaper reports.
"The (national police chief) has mobilised more men to get these children out," he said, declining to provide details.
The hijacking occurred on the outskirts of Aba, where just last week doctors went on strike over what they said was the kidnap and murder of one of their colleagues. 
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The shocking suicide of a college student whose sex life was broadcast over the Web illustrates yet again the Internet's alarming potential as a means of tormenting others and raises questions whether young people in the age of Twitter and Facebook can even distinguish public from private. Cruel gossip and vengeful acts once confined to the schoolyard or the dorm can now make their way around the world instantly via the Internet, along with photos and live video.
"It's just a matter of when the next suicide's going to hit, when the next attack's going to hit," said Parry Aftab, a New Jersey lawyer who runs the website WiredSafety.
Last week, Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after his roommate and another classmate allegedly used a webcam to secretly broadcast his dorm room sexual encounters with another man. The two classmates have been charged with invasion of privacy, with the most serious charges carrying up to five years in prison.
The suicide of Clementi, a shy, gifted 18-year-old violinist, shocked and disturbed gay rights activists and others on campus.
"Had he been in bed with a woman, this would not have happened," said Rutgers student Lauren Felton, 21, of Warren, N.J. "He wouldn't have been outed via an online broadcast, and his privacy would have been respected and he might still have his life."
The Associated Press found at least 12 cases in the U.S. since 2003 in which children and young adults between 11 and 18 killed themselves after falling victim to some form of "cyberbullying" — teasing, harassing or intimidating with pictures or words distributed online or via text message.
In probably the best-known case, 13-year-old Megan Meier of Daddenne Prairie, Mo., hanged herself in 2006 after she received messages on MySpace — supposedly from a teenage boy — cruelly dumping her. An adult neighbor was later found guilty of taking part in the hoax, but the conviction was overturned.
Earlier this year, 17-year-old Alexis Pilkington of West Islip, N.Y., who had landed a college soccer scholarship, killed herself after receiving a stream of nasty messages.
Gregory Jantz, founder of A Place of Hope, a Seattle mental health care center, said young people who use the Internet to spread something damaging about others often don't realize how hurtful it can be because many of them have grown up in a world that has blurred the line between public and private.
"Our kids are in a different zone now," Jantz said.
Aftab said young people who would never bully someone face to face do it online in part because of the often-false sense of anonymity that the Internet provides.
"They'll also jump on because they don't want to be the next target," Aftab said.
In Clementi's case, prosecutors said that his roommate, Dharun Ravi of Plainsboro, N.J., and Molly Wei of Princeton, N.J., both 18-year-old freshmen, transmitted a live image of Clementi having sex on Sept. 19 and that Ravi tried to webcast a second encounter on Sept. 21, the day before Clementi's suicide. Ravi's lawyer and a lawyer believed to be representing Wei did not return calls.
Luanne Peterpaul, vice chairwoman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality and a former New Jersey prosecutor, said authorities might be able to pursue the case as a hate crime under state law if they are able to establish that the defendants acted because they believed Clementi was gay.
Ravi posted a message on his now-closed Twitter account on Sept. 19: "Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."
Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan said in a statement: "We will be making every effort to assess whether bias played a role in the incident, and, if so, we will bring appropriate charges."
A lawyer for Clementi's family did not respond to requests for comment on whether Clementi had come out to friends and family about his sexual orientation. He also said the family had no comment.
The mourning continued at Rutgers; in Ridgewood, the suburban New Jersey town where Clementi grew up and attended high school; and across New Jersey.
Clementi's violin teacher for the past five years could not believe he had taken his own life.
"He was a very genuine and, I guess, you could call it a shy person," said Khullip Jeung, 33, who teaches out of his home in Fort Lee. "But when he played the violin, it was different. He had a strong voice. He knew what he wanted to say. And he spoke through his violin. And I think that is the real Tyler that I knew."
Childhood friend Mary Alcaro, who played in a summer music academy with him, said Clementi had been destined for greatness.
"I've never heard anyone make a violin sing the way he did," she said in an e-mail.
Even Gov. Chris Christie had something to say.
"As the father of a 17-year-old, I can't imagine what those parents are feeling today," he said. "Those people who led him to that bridge are going to have to bear that responsibility for the rest of their lives."
Students at West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional High School, from which Ravi and Wei graduated, remembered them as nice people who were not in any way homophobic.
Ravi had gay friends, said Derek Yan, 16, a junior. Yan said he chatted online with Ravi about what college life was like, and Ravi "said he was lucky to have a good roommate. He said his roommate was cool."
Mulvihill reported from Haddonfield. Contributing to this article were Associated Press news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York; videographers Ted Shaffrey in Ridgewood and Bonny Ghosh in Plainsboro; and writers Angela Delli Santi in Trenton and Wayne Parry in Atlantic City.

Afghanistan News

5 NATO Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan

NATO says separate attacks have killed five of its service members in southern Afghanistan.

The coalition says three soldiers were killed in a bomb attack Thursday.  Another service member was killed in a separate bombing.  And an insurgent attack killed a fifth soldier.  No other details were given.

This year has been the deadliest for international forces in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of the country.  More than 530 foreign troops have been killed.

NATO commanders have said they expect heavy fighting as Afghan and NATO-led forces work to clear the southern city of Kandahar and surrounding districts of Taliban insurgents.

On Thursday, Afghan and NATO officials said a suicide bomber killed three civilians and wounded 12 others when he attacked a NATO convoy near the airport in Kandahar province.

Separately, the coalition said Thursday that four Afghan civilians were killed and three others wounded during a NATO operation the day before in Ghazni province.

NATO says the incident occurred after a joint Afghan and NATO force came under fire from insurgents in the Andar district on Wednesday.  NATO says a helicopter fired to protect the troops, but instead accidentally struck unarmed civilians.  The coalition expressed regret and condolences at the loss of civilian life.

Civilian casualties resulting from NATO operations have been a major source of tension between the Afghan government and members of the alliance (voice of america)

Global Terrorism --- al Queda

ISLAMABAD — Eight Germans and two British brothers are at the heart of an al-Qaida-linked terror plot against European cities, but the plan is still in its early stages, with the suspects calling acquaintances in Europe to plan logistics, a Pakistani intelligence official said Thursday. One of the Britons died in a recent CIA missile strike, he said.
The revelations underscore the role of Pakistan as a haven for many would-be Islamist militants with foreign ties, a worrying prospect for Western countries who face additional challenges when tracking terror suspects among citizens who have passports and easier access to their shores.
Pakistan, Britain and Germany are tracking the suspects and intercepting their phone calls, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information to the media.
The official is part of an intelligence team that has been tracking the two British brothers of Pakistani origin for nearly a year and the Germans for more than six months.
He said the suspects are hiding in North Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal region where militancy is rife and where the U.S. has focused many of its drone-fired missile strikes.
"They have been making calls to Germany and London," the official said. "They have been talking about and looking for facilitators and logistics they need there to carry out terror strikes."
Western security officials said Wednesday that a terror plot to wage Mumbai-style shooting sprees or other attacks in Britain, France and Germany was still active. Both European and U.S. officials said the plot was still in its early stages and not considered serious enough to raise the terror threat level.
Still, the Eiffel Tower in Paris was briefly evacuated Tuesday — the second time in two weeks because of an unspecified threat — and there was a heavy police presence around Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Big Ben. Police on Thursday evacuated a street near Britain's Parliament in London after reports of a suspicious vehicle but said they did not regard the incident as serious.
Although he characterized the plot as immature, the Pakistani official warned against underestimating the suspects, whom he said have backing from al-Qaida, the Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan Taliban, all groups that are separate yet interconnected.
"It does not mean that they are not capable of materializing their designs," the official said. "They are very much working on it."
The U.S. has dramatically stepped up its missile attacks in North Waziristan, and is believed to have launched at least 21 this month. The official said a Sept. 8 strike killed one of the Britons, whom he identified as Abdul Jabbar, originally from Pakistan's Jhelum district. Jabbar was believed to be younger than 30.
In Brussels on Thursday, Europol director Robert Wainwright said a drop in terror attacks in Europe — coupled with intelligence that had thwarted major plots in the past — masked an ongoing threat.
"There has been a significant decline in the number of terrorist attacks in Europe — certainly committed by Islamist groups — that hides the reality that these groups are still active," Wainwright told AP.
Asked about the suspected plot, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abdul Basit, said the government was unaware of any such plans.
"Let me reiterate that Pakistan is committed not to allow its territory for terrorist actions anywhere in the world," he said.
A German intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media, said Germany regularly tracks suspected radicals leaving the country to go to train in Pakistan or Afghanistan, but cannot do anything to prevent them from leaving the country.
When they return, however, German laws enacted since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S. now let authorities charge people for training in such camps.
In August, for example, a 25-year-old German citizen identified only as Rami M. was extradited from Pakistan and charged with membership in a terrorist organization. According to prosecutors at the time, he left Germany in March 2009 to join a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, where he learned how to handle "weapons and explosives," prosecutors said when he was charged.
He then joined the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan's fighting in the region, the prosecutors said. The group is suspected of terror attacks mostly targeting Pakistani security forces or NATO's international troops in Afghanistan, prosecutors said.
Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office would not comment on the report of eight Germans being involved. But a spokeswoman, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of departmental policy, said there are indications that some 220 people have traveled from Germany to Pakistan and Afghanistan for paramilitary training, and "concrete evidence" that 70 of those had done so.
She said it is believed that about a third of those 70 have returned to Germany. The Pakistani intelligence official said there are believed to be around 60 Germans in North Waziristan now.
French authorities, meanwhile, have received indications from allied intelligence services about the possibility of attacks, but no plot outright, a high-ranking French security official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
A recent spate of anonymous, phoned-in bomb threats in Paris — including on the Eiffel Tower — didn't appear to have the "signature" of al-Qaida, the official said, noting the terror network hasn't typically tipped off authorities to attacks in advance.
The ability of homegrown militants to cross borders and commit acts of terror has long confounded law enforcement officials. The secretary-general of Interpol, Ronald K. Noble, told the AP that one of the biggest challenges law enforcement and terror officials encounter was that passport details of millions of passengers each year were not being checked against Interpol databases.
Last year, out of the nearly 1 billion passengers that traveled through airports, only 400 million had their passport details checked against national and Interpol databases, he said.
Dodds reported from Brussels. Associated Press writers David Rising in Berlin and Jamey Keaten in Paris contributed to this report.