WASHINGTON, (AFP) — Iraqi authorities have uncovered plans by Al-Qaeda to fly hijacked planes into the country’s Shiite mosques in Iraq, a US counter-terrorism official said on Wednesday.
But it remained unclear how far the plot had advanced, the official said.
“There are indications that such a plot was, in fact, in the works. It may not have been that far along, but that?s obviously a key question people are looking at now,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
He added that “the Iraqis are working hard to make sure that everyone connected to it is wrapped up.”
The comments came after an airport in Najaf, 150 kilometres (90 miles) south of the Iraqi capital, was closed on April 7, but Iraqi officials did not report any Al-Qaeda plot.
Authorities had cited security concerns for the closure, saying the Kuwaiti company responsible for passenger operations had failed to meet its contractual obligations to provide security-related equipment.
The airport is used by thousands of Shiite pilgrims, mostly from Iran and Bahrain.
Triple suicide bombings on April 4 that targeted foreign embassies and killed 30 people in Baghdad were later claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq, the Al-Qaeda front in the country.
On April 6, six bombs in the capital killed at least 35 people, prompting Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim Atta to declare the country was at “open war with remnants of Al-Qaeda and the Baath” party of Saddam Hussein.