CIA chief Leon Panetta is in Pakistan to hold talks with top intelligence officials, amid reports of a potential terror plot aimed at Europe and possibly the United States. Pakistani sources confirmed Wednesday that Panetta would meet with Pakistan’s lead intelligence officer, General Ahmad Shuja Pasha. Western intelligence officials say they have information that terrorist groups operating from Pakistan’s lawless tribal regions have been plotting attacks against the West. The reported plan was to launch commando-style terrorist attacks in Britain, France, Germany and possibly the United States.
The U.S. director of national intelligence, James Clapper, says the U.S. has shared intelligence with Europe in recent days and is working with its allies to ward off international terror attacks.
Intelligence officials in Europe said Wednesday they consider reports of possible terrorist action in major cities a credible threat, but that no attacks are expected soon. U.S. and British news reports quoting unnamed security officials say the suspected terror plot calls for attacks similar to those launched in Mumbai in 2008. Heavily armed Islamic militants who stormed multiple sites in the Indian metropolis killed 166 people.
Britain and France raised their terror alert levels by one notch this year, and security forces in Paris have evacuated the landmark Eiffel Tower twice this month as a result of bomb threats. German officials said Wednesday they have seen no “concrete” indication that an attack is imminent, so they have their country’s threat assessment unchanged.
Beyond saying that active terrorist cells are operating in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal regions, Western intelligence officials have refused to disclose specific details of their investigations. Pakistan’s military spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, told a reporter Wednesday that any reports of militants plotting attacks from bases in Pakistan are “speculative.”
Missile attacks against suspected hideouts used by terror groups in Pakistan’s tribal regions have sharply increased recently. By some estimates, there have been at least 20 deadly strikes so far this month. The VOA Pentagon correspondent says military officials will not confirm news reports that the Central Intelligence Agency uses unmanned aircraft to carry out attacks on militants based in Pakistani border areas – Voanews