PARIS — Saudi intelligence services have warned of a new terror threat from al Qaeda against Europe, particularly in France, French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said Sunday.
He said the warning of a potential attack by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was received "in the last few hours, few days."
European officials were informed that "al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was doubtless active or envisioned being active" on the "European continent, notably France," Mr. Hortefeux said during a joint TV and radio interview.
"The threat is real," he said on RTL-LCI-Le Figaro's weekly talk show.
The warning from Saudi Arabia is the latest in a series of alerts that have put French security forces and others in high-vigilance mode.
On Sept. 9, Interpol, the international police organization, signaled an "Islamist threat on a world scale, and notably on the European continent," Mr. Hortefeux said without elaborating. That was followed by a Sept. 16, report of a woman suicide bomber who could take action in France — later judged not fully credible.
Intelligence sources in North Africa also contacted France about a potential threat as did the United States, he said. He said he had spoken at length with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
It was the first time a French official has offered details about potential threats since mid-September, when officials first publicly invoked the possibility that France could be a target of radical Islamist groups.
"We must not overestimate the threat or underestimate it," the minister said. "We are directly concerned."
No one could be reached at the Saudi Interior Ministry late Sunday.
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