France – On May 1, it was reported that the roundabout at Place de l’Etoile in Paris was closed after police received a bomb threat. It was thought that the bomb threat was to cause chaos and confusion to commuters. There is a possibility, however, that terrorists are targeting important areas to gauge the reaction of the French authorities prior to carrying out a well planned and executed spectacular attack. If this was to happen, the French police and military will have to be aware of a secondary device at an assembly area. The last time a bomb threat was received was on March 30, when the capital’s (Paris) Eiffel Tower had to be evacuated. Judging that this is the second false bomb threat that the French have received, it could be that they will become complacent and the terrorists will then strike.
Italy – In early May, Italian police arrested four men they believed to be part of an Islamist terrorist network ; two others escaped. The six were thought to be training militants for operations abroad and planning terrorist attacks against the US, Israel and Italy. The police believe that the six were recruited amongst illegal immigrants and were then sent to training camps in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iraq and Yemen. There was no specific information as to what the intended targets were, but the Italians believe that possible targets included governments, military forces, institutions and international organisations viewed as enemies in the context of a holy war. Italy has been involved in both Iraq and Afghanistan and would be seen as a legitimate target for the al-Qaeda franchise.
United Kingdom – According to the British press, those Britons who seek to travel to former French colonies in Africa have been warned that they face the high possibility of being kidnapped. Mohammed al-Zawahiri, who is the brother of the al-Qaeda leader, Ayman Zawahiri, has stated to the French media, which was reported in the British press, that this will be in revenge for those countries that have supported the French operation in Mali. Although the threat is aimed at British travelers, other nationalities that assisted in the conflict would also be targeted, especially in areas where al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) have terrorist cells operating. Countries such as Mauritania, Niger, Algeria, Libya, Burkina Faso, and Chad are where the group is known to operate. Other areas to be wary of are Nigeria and Cameroon, where other militant groups would kidnap hostages and sell them on for a price to AQIM.
Paul Ashley is the Senior Counter-Terrorist Analyst