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Oct 08

Barack Obama accused of exaggerating terror threat for political gain

• Pakistani diplomat launches scathing attack on White House
• European intelligence claims raised terror alerts ‘nonsensical’

French police do security checks at the Gare du Nord French police carry out security checks at Gare du Nord following the US terror warnings. Photograph: Franck Prevel/Getty Images

A US terror alert issued this week about al-Qaida plots to attack targets in western Europe was politically motivated and not based on credible new information, senior Pakistani diplomats and European intelligence officials have told the Guardian.

The non-specific US warning, which despite its vagueness led Britain, France and other countries to raise their overseas terror alert levels, was an attempt to justify a recent escalation in US drone and helicopter attacks inside Pakistan that have “set the country on fire”, said Wajid Shamsul Hasan, the high commissioner to Britain.

Hasan, a veteran diplomat who is close to Pakistan’s president, suggested the Obama administration was playing politics with the terror threat before next month’s midterm congressional elections, in which the Republicans are expected to make big gains.

He also claimed President Obama was reacting to pressure to demonstrate that his Afghan war strategy and this year’s troop surge, which are unpopular with the American public, were necessary.

“I will not deny the fact that there may be internal political dynamics, including the forthcoming midterm American elections. If the Americans have definite information about terrorists and al-Qaida people, we should be provided [with] that and we could go after them ourselves,” Hasan said.

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