Al Qaeda threat dismissed

Last updated at 15:17 02 July 2004

A statement from an Al Qaeda-linked group vowing to carry out attacks in Europe has been dismissed by security sources. The letter said a three-month truce offered by Osama bin Laden in April has expired, and warned Muslims to leave the West.

Al Qaeda leader bin Laden extended a truce to Europeans if they withdrew troops from Muslim nations and said the offer would last three months, in an audio tape on April 15.

"To the European people... you only have a few more days to accept bin Laden's truce or you will only have yourselves to blame," said the statement purported to be from Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, which claimed responsibility for the March 11 train bombings in Spain.

But a British security source said the group is not credible.

"They claimed the Madrid bombings and it clearly wasn't them. It's the sort of thing they say all the time. They're just repeating the same old bile," the source said.

Warning to Muslims in West

It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the statement, parts of which were published by London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. The daily said the letter was dated July 1.

"Muslims in the West should depart to Muslim states if they can," the letter said.

"Those who cannot should take precautions and live in Muslim areas, have enough food to last a month, find ways to protect themselves and their families, leave enough money in the house to last one month or longer and to pray a lot and put their fate in God's hands," it added.

Several European states had rejected the truce offer, which excluded the United States and Israel.

The CIA has said the voice on the tape was "likely" that of Saudi-born bin Laden, whose group carried out the September 2001 attacks on US cities.

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