Islamic State plans subway attacks in US and Paris, says Iraq

No evidence to back claim, say American and French officials

Passengers get off a subway train at Times Square in New York yesterday. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters.

Passengers get off a subway train at Times Square in New York yesterday. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters.

 

yesterday, but senior US and French officials said they had no evidence to back up the claim.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he had received the information yesterday morning from militants captured in Iraq and concluded it was credible after asking for further details. The attacks, he said, were plotted from inside Iraq by “networks” of the Islamic State (IS), also known as Isis or Isil.

“They plan to have attacks in the metros of Paris and the US,” Mr Abadi told US reporters while in New York for the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly. “I asked for more credible information. I asked for names. I asked for details, for cities, you know, dates. And from the details I have received, yes, it looks credible.”

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the White House had not confirmed any plan to attack the US and French subway systems. “We have not confirmed such a plot, and would have to review any information from our Iraqi partners before making further determinations,” she said.

A senior US administration official said no one in the US government was aware of such a plot, and that Iraqi officials had not previously raised it with their American counterparts. French security services also said they had no information confirming Mr Abadi’s statement, a French government source said.

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There had been no credible threats made against Washington DC’s rail and bus system, Washington Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.

The US and France have both launched air strikes against IS targets in Iraq as part of a US-led campaign to “degrade and destroy” the radical Sunni militant group, which has seized one-third of both Iraq and Syria.

Mr Abadi disclosed the intelligence while making a case for western and Arab countries to join that campaign.

“We want to increase the number of willing countries who would support this,” he said. “This is not military. This is intelligence. This is security. The terrorists have a massive international campaign. Don’t underestimate it.”

In the past, the US received threats that various militant groups were targeting transportation systems but there was no recent information about an imminent plan by IS, one US official said.

Mr Abadi also said Iraq did not want to see foreign “boots on the ground”, but stressed the value of providing air cover for the country, saying that the Iraqi airforce did not have sufficient capability. Australia, he said, was “very interested” in participating, though he did not give details. He also voiced optimism about a planned British parliament vote today on the matter, saying “they reckon it will be successful”.