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Western anti-terror agencies have warned that a large group of 15-20 al Qaeda terrorists, trained in Pakistan and Algeria to hijack and blow up airliners, deployed secretly in at least six European and Middle East countries in early July. They are standing ready to carry out multiple terrorist attacks.
The terrorists are believed to have landed in Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey and Egypt.
The dates to watch, local authorities were warned, were July 4, July 7, the fourth anniversary of the 7/7 attacks on the British transport system in which 52 people died, and July 8-9, when the G8 summit meets in the Italian town of L'Aqila. US president Barak Obama will fly in from talks with Russian leaders in Moscow.
Al Qaeda planners, say the Western sources, know it is extremely hard to break through the massive security cordons protecting summit leaders. They are therefore planning to hijack passenger planes of airlines belonging to the targeted states and blow them up in mid-air.
DEBKAfile's counter-terror sources report the first specific red alert on Saturday, July 4, referred to the possible hijack of Turkish Airways planes taking off from Turkish airports for US destinations or Tel Aviv. Special precautionary measures were put in place at both ends of their routes.
The alert is still in force.