Qaeda plotting to target World Cup - report

2010-05-17 15:18

Johannesburg - South African police were making inquiries regarding the veracity of a report that a Saudi army officer was arrested in Iraq on Monday for an alleged al-Qaeda plot targeting World Cup events.

"I know absolutely nothing about that, I am making inquiries," said police spokesperson Colonel Vishnu Naidoo.

Musa Zondi, spokesperson for National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele was also not aware of the arrest.

German news agency Deutsche Press Agenteur reported that Saudi Colonel Azzam al-Qahtani, also known as Sanan al-Saudi, entered Iraq in 2004 and was believed to have been involved in attacks on religious sites in Karbala and Najaf.

He was accused of co-operating with Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's second in command, in planning attacks on the World Cup events in South Africa, which begins in June, the agency reported.

The report comes on the day South African security forces paraded in the north of Johannesburg in a show of readiness ahead of the games.

On May 13, Cele said South African police knew of no security threat to the event.

Cele promises 'wrath, police fire'

In a speech prepared for delivery at Monday's parade, Cele said the security plan "looks at the smallest of issues, whether it be the protection of a soccer ball to the biggest form of criminality such as terrorism".

"While no country can stand boldly and pronounce that it is immune from terrorism, what becomes critical is, should such an act occur, how do we respond?

"What makes us even more alert in our security planning is that South Africa will be hosting the whole world and therefore we will take no chances."

He said the country would spare "neither strength nor effort in ensuring the safety of all citizens and visitors".

Criminals who wanted to test the security forces should expect "wrath and real umlilo wamaphoyisa (police fire)" from 190 000 policemen, he said.