Al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri is planning to carry out a terror strike at the eagerly awaited FIFA World Cup 2010, a recently arrested Al Qaeda operative has disclosed.
The operative, Azzam Saleh Misfar Al Qahtani is a former Saudi Army Colonel and has previously been behind two suicide bombings in Baghdad, and had been appointed as the security chief for Al Qaeda's local branch in Iraq.
It has emerged that England's opening match against the US was the likely target.
"He participated in the planning of a terrorist act in South Africa during the World Cup. He was in contact with the terrorist Ayman Al Zawahiri to organise the plan hatched by Al Qaeda," the Telegraph quoted Major General Qassim Atta, head of security in Baghdad as saying.
This revelation will probably lead to a review of security arrangements in South Africa, security forces there had hitherto been concentrating on curtailing violent crime for which the country is notorious.
There are precautions against terror strikes but the police say they are still investigating the claims. "The South African police are still working on getting confirmation," Nonkululeko Mbatha, a spokeswoman, said.