Al-Qaeda threat to Commonwealth Games, IPL and hockey World CupFebruary 20, 2010
By Nick Hoult
In a rare example of a terrorist group using specific threats against sporting events to generate propaganda the 313 Brigade, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, warned that athletes and spectators attending the events in India would face “consequences”. The IPL and hockey World Cup take place next month, with the Commonwealth Games scheduled for October in Delhi.
In a message issued following a bomb attack on the Indian city of Pune at the weekend, Ilyas Kashmiri, the head of 313 Brigade, was quoted by Asian Times Online as saying: “We warn the international community not to send their people to the 2010 Hockey World Cup, IPL and Commonwealth Games. Nor should their people visit India – if they do, they will be responsible for the consequences.”
Lalit Modi, the chairman of the IPL, last night insisted the league, which begins on March 12, would go ahead. “We are working with the Indian government on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “Security is going to be very, very tight and we have discussed every eventuality.”
Last year the IPL was shifted out of India due to security concerns and Modi said, “we do have a back-up plan”.
David Faulkner, the England Hockey performance director, expects full details of security arrangements for the World Cup to be made clear by the weekend.
Faulkner is waiting for the International Hockey Federation to deliver detailed plans for security at the team hotel and transportation during the tournament, which starts in New Delhi on Feb 28.
He said: “Hopefully by the weekend we will have all the necessary details and planning to hand. We’ve had a positive communication from the FIH and there is a briefing taking place later this week which the British High Commission is managing on our behalf.”
The direct threat will add to uncertainty surrounding the Delhi Commonwealth Games, which will be the largest sporting event held in the subcontinent.
Some of the world’s leading athletes have already indicated they will not compete citing scheduling issues, and last year The Daily Telegraph disclosed grave reservations about security at the event.
Commonwealth Games Federation chief Mike Hooper dismissed suggestions the competition should be moved to another country. “The Games will not be shifted, make no mistake, the Games in 2010 will be in Delhi, there is no Plan B,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “From a planning and security point of view, there is nothing to my knowledge that would suggest that security planning for the Games is not on track. The commitment is unwavering from the Indian government to deliver a safe and secure Games.”
Last night security experts retained by Commonwealth Games England were examining the threat. “We take the security of the English team very seriously indeed, and are working closely with a number of experts and advisers in this area,” said a spokeswoman.
“Any threat will be evaluated and analysed to ensure the safety of our athletes. As things stand we have been assured it will be safe to compete and as such we intend to travel to the Games in October. We will continue to take advice and evaluate intelligence throughout the period approaching the Games.”
The Foreign Office said it was aware of the 313 Brigade statement, and that its advice to travellers was constantly under review.
“We are monitoring developments in India closely. Our travel advice already makes clear reference to terrorism and security issues in India generally.
“We are in regular contact with UK sporting bodies ahead of events such as the Commonwealth Games in India. We will continue to work closely with the Indian authorities who are doing everything they can to ensure the safety, security and success of these forthcoming sporting events.”
Under threat :
MEN’S HOCKEY WORLD CUP
Feb 28-March 13 (Delhi)
England fixtures: Feb 28: v Australia; March 2: v S Africa; 4: v Pakistan; 6: v India; 8: v Spain
INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE
March 12-April 25 (various locations)
English players: Paul Collingwood, Owais Shah, Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan, Ravi Bopara, Graham Napier, Michael Lumb,Dimitri Mascarenhas, Andrew Flintoff.
Oct 3-Oct 14