al-Qaeda trains woman suicide bombers to attack West: Report

Details of the bombers emerged just hours after Britain raised the UK threat state to "severe" amid fears that al-Qaeda was planning a wave of attacks against western targets, 'The Sunday Telegraph' reported.

The woman suicide bombers, who may be travelling on Western passports, have been prepared for their missions by al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen responsible for the botched Christmas Day attempt to blow up a US airliner, it said.

US officials quoted by the paper as saying that airliners and all forms of transport could be targeted as well as sports stadia, ports and power stations. The report came as Foreign Ministers from across the world, including External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, are preparing to meet in London this week for two conferences to discuss the threat of terrorism in both Yemen and Afghanistan. But official sources insisted that there was no specific intelligence which suggested that either conference was a potential target.

Terror experts within the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, a unit of MI5, the British internal intelligence agency, now believe that an attack against the UK is "highly likely". According to the report, US law enforcement agents have been told to be on the look out for woman suicide bombers who may attempt to enter the country.

At least two are believed to be connected to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula which dispatched Nigerian bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmuttallab, who tried unsuccessfully to bring down a transatlantic airliner over Detroit on December 25 last year.

"They (al-Qaeda) have trained women," Richard Clarke, a former chief White House counter-terrorism adviser, was quoted as saying. "There are others who are still out there who have been trained and who are clean skins - that means people who we do not have a record of, people who may not look like al-Qaeda terrorists, who may not be Arabs, and may not be men." Security source said it was "inevitable" that al-Qaeda would eventually turn to using women with a Western appearance to carry out suicide attacks.

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