Terror strike, a real possibility: report

The recent arrest in Iraq of Abdullah Azzam al-Qahtani, an alleged al Qaeda supporter who claimed he was planning attacks on the Dutch and Danish teams, has revived debate on whether the tournament faces a threat of this kind.

Qahtani's scheme was later dismissed as posing no serious threat. South African officials have long said their non-aligned status and a lack of any substantial local support for militant groups should insulate them from attacks during the June 11-July 11 event.

Both the government and soccer's governing body FIFA, which is cooperating with foreign security agencies and Interpol, have helped strengthen that view by stating no viable threat had been identified.

However, analysts and security experts believe such actions cannot be ruled out because of the huge attention that even a small attack would get during the tournament.

Ronald Sandee, director of the NEFA Foundation, which investigates possible terrorist activities, briefed the US Congress counter-terror caucus on possible threats to the tournament, the Johannesburg-based paper said.

He warned that Pakistani and Somali militants were running training camps in northern Mozambique and that trainees from these camps may have already crossed into South Africa to form or join cells planning attacks.

"I believe there is an 80 percent chance of an attack," he told the paper, adding that strike teams were well established in South Africa.

"Information confirms that several venues will be targeted, some simultaneously, others at random. Reference is also made to the possibility of a kamikaze-type attack," the paper quoted him as saying.

He said that numerous references were made to World Cup attacks in closed-frequency radio broadcasts and phone intercepts in Mauritania, Algeria, Mali, Pakistan and Yemen.

However, the police have dismissed the allegations. "I don't know where they got their information from. We have all our strategies and plans in place," Police Senior Superintendent Vish Naidoo said.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)