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The World Cup of Terror By: Stephen Brown
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, June 08, 2006


With the 2006 World Cup of soccer to begin in Germany this Friday, police and security officials in that country are expressing serious concerns about terrorists targeting the event.

The Federal Crime Office (Germany’s FBI) recently estimated at least 21 of the 64 games to be played in the month-long tournament are “high risk” regarding a terrorist assault. Konrad Freiburg, head of Germany’s police union, told a Berlin newspaper his organization agrees with the FCO’s assessment, saying attacks by extremists cannot be taken lightly. Freiburg also added a number of games at this year’s World Cup are threatened with attack not only from al Qaeda terrorists, but also from homegrown German Islamists, whom he calls the greatest danger.

 

Freiburg’s fears concerning Islamist attacks against the 2006 World Cup are not without foundation. In his excellent book, Terror On The Pitch: How Bin Laden Targeted Beckham And The England Football Team, author Adam Robinson outlines the relatively unknown attempt by al Qaeda to use an allied Algerian Islamist terrorist organization, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), to stage bloody attacks against the 1998 World Cup in France.

 

According to Robinson, the most spectacular of the several simultaneous attacks that made up the diabolical plot was to occur at a game between England and Tunisia in Marseilles, a Mediterranean French city with a large Arab population. Over months, the terrorists had worked to infiltrate several of their operatives into the 70,000-seat Stade-Velodrome, home of the local Marseilles team, for the June 15 game. The terrorists selected for the suicide mission had posed as avid soccer fans and joined the Marseilles team’s fan club, which unwittingly employed them as volunteer workers for the World Cup match. This would have allowed them unfettered access to the playing field.

 

Once the game was underway and with 500 million people watching worldwide, Robinson writes the attack was probably to unfold with one terrorist first killing England’s star goalkeeper, David Seaman, in his net with a suicide bomb. An accomplice was then to throw grenades at the English bench, targeting the young David Beckham and the English coach, Glenn Hoddle, but killing many players. One grenade was also to be lobbed among the English fans behind the bench. The last terrorist was also to go onto the field and shoot dead England’s star player, Alan Shearer, with a pistol and, if possible, other teammates.

 

Simultaneously, Islamist terrorists in Paris were to attack the American team in their hotel where they were awaiting their game with Germany that afternoon, passing the time watching a broadcast of the England-Tunisia game. Unlike their counterparts in Marseilles who would have valid credentials, the GIA assassins in Paris were to evade French security measures by using stolen hotel uniforms and identifications. 

 

Simultaneous attacks were also planned against the American embassy in Paris and the American consulate in Marseilles. The terrorists had scouted the American consulate in Strasbourg as a possible target but considered it too well protected. One captured document indicates the Islamists had also considered killing America’s ambassador to France, Pamela Harriman, but she had suffered a stroke the previous year and had died.

 

But the most horrendous part of this incredible plot was to occur in western France near the city of Poitiers. There, three Islamists, living as university students, were to hijack a passenger airline at a local airport the same day and crash it into the nearby nuclear reactor in the hope of killing 100,000 French people and creating a nuclear catastrophe ten times worse than Chernobyl.   

 

Luckily for France and the world, French intelligence services had a highly placed informer inside the GIA. Robinson believes it was this informer’s selling of names of dangerous Islamists in Europe to his handlers that led to the plot’s unraveling. French security authorities, he maintains, were subsequently horrified at the scale of the plot that unfolded before their eyes and at the depth of Islamist infiltration into France.  

 

Besides striking a blow at the West, the purpose of the World Cup attack, Robinson believes, was to get worldwide attention for al Qaeda and for bin Laden himself to satisfy his large ego, attention he finally achieved with the 9/11 tragedy. Robinson writes that bin Laden had played a large part in the plot’s target selection, especially regarding the individual English footballers to be murdered. Bin Laden had been a good soccer player in his youth and was still an avid fan of the game, especially of England’s Arsenal club, and would therefore have known the English stars. Robinson believes bin Laden may even have visited England at one time to meet with other Islamist terrorists and attended Arsenal games while there.

 

During the 2006 World Cup, the American team is staying in Hamburg, the hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism in Germany, where one hundred policemen have sealed off their downtown hotel and surrounded the team’s practice field with a five-foot fence and video cameras. This is part of German government officials’ assurances everything humanly possible has been done to ensure the event’s security. And with the 1972 Munich massacre a not too far distant memory, one can only hope they are right.

 

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Stephen Brown is a contributing editor at Frontpagemag.com. He has a graduate degree in Russian and Eastern European history. Email him at alsolzh@hotmail.com.


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