CAIRO, Egypt (AP) – A statement in the name of a group that claimed responsibility for the London bombings threatened Tuesday to launch “a bloody war” on the capitals of European countries that do not remove their troops from Iraq within a month.
“This is the last message we send to the European countries. We are giving you one month for your soldiers to leave the Land of the Two Rivers. Then there will be no other messages, but actions, and the words will be engraved in the heart of Europe,” Abu Hafs al Masri Brigades said in a statement.
The “two rivers” in the statement refer to Iraq’s Euphrates and Tigris rivers.
The authenticity of the statement – which surfaced on an Islamic Web site known as a clearing house for extremist groups’ material – could not be verified.
A U.S. official said there is some mystery that surrounds the group, which has no proven track record of attacks.
Experts are skeptical of its statements. The organization has claimed responsibility for events in which it clearly did not play any role, such as the 2003 blackouts in the United States and London that resulted from technical problems.
But, the U.S. official said, there is a school of thought that the name may apply to an umbrella organization for a loose group of terrorists that take actions in the name of al-Masri – one alias of Mohammed Atef, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan in November 2001.
While loosely defined, the group is thought to have a presence in Europe, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the information’s sensitive nature.
It is not the first time this group has threatened European nations. In recent months it said its operatives would strike in Europe if European nations did not withdraw their troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
“It is time for you to understand that the Mujahedeen (holy warriors) will not leave their nation suffering under the stigma of humiliation and the killings by American fire which you allied with,” the statement said.
It vowed to launch “a bloody war, God willing,” against Denmark, Holland, Britain, Italy and other countries “whose soldiers are roving and having fun in Iraq.”
The group was one of at least two to claim responsibility for the July 7 bombings that killed 56 people on London’s Underground and a double-decker bus.
“We promise you that these will be the last words,” the statement said. “After that, our Mujahedeen will say something else in your capitals.”
Associated Press writer Katherine Shrader contributed to this report from Washington.
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