Al-Qaida in Iraq focused on outside attacks
The leader of al-Qaida in Iraq has said his group is focused on attacks outside the country in a new audiotape in which he seemed to claim responsibility for the June 2007 attack on Glasgow International Airport, AP reported.
Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, did not specifically mention the Scottish airport in the nearly 45-minute interview posted on the Internet on Thursday.
But he said his group carried out its "last operation in Britain, a good part of which was launched on the airport and the rest was not carried out due to a mistake made by one of the brothers." Scotland is part of Great Britain.
Two men were arrested and charged with conspiring to murder after a burning Jeep loaded with gas cylinders was driven into Glasgow airport in June 2007. A day earlier, police discovered two cars packed with explosives in central London.
British authorities indicated at the time that they thought the plotters may have had links with al-Qaida.
Al-Masri said that a few days before the airport attack, one of the plotters "got in touch and informed (al-Qaida in Iraq) that the operation is about to happen."
Many terrorism analysts have expressed concern that well-trained fighters from al-Qaida in Iraq and other Islamic extremists groups in the country could seek to export violence to places like Western Europe and Afghanistan as Iraq becomes more stable.
"All the countries that participated in the hostility against Iraq and their crimes against our people are a legitimate target for us, no matter how long it takes," said al-Masri in the audiotape.
Violence is at its lowest levels in Iraq in more than four years - a decline many credit to the U.S. troop "surge" in 2007, the decision by Sunni insurgents to turn against al-Qaida and a cease-fire by anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
The audiotape posted Thursday could not be independently verified, but it appeared on a Web site commonly used by al-Qaida.
Bilal Abdulla, a 29-year-old Iraqi, and Mohammed Asha, a 28-year-old Jordanian, each face two counts of conspiring to murder and cause explosions outside a London nightclub, near a West End bus stop and inside Glasgow International Airport in June 2007. They deny all charges.
Police captured Abdulla beside the burning wreckage of the sport utility vehicle that had rammed the airport's pedestrian entrance. The driver, 28-year-old Indian Kafeel Ahmed, died later from his burns. Asha was arrested in England hours after the attack.