Aimen Dean, a former Al Qaeda bombmaker turned spy for the U.K.’s MI6 spy agency, is warning that the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group is preparing a wave of attacks in Britain, France, and Germany ahead of Christmas.
Dean said ISIS commander Abu Omar al-Shishani is planning to send attackers to Europe through Turkey and across the Mediterranean from North Africa, The Daily Mail reported. Speaking at the International Security Week conference, which ran from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, Dean said Shishani is primarily motivated to attack the countries over recent incidents in which depictions of the prophet Muhammad have been shared, in violation of some Islamic practices.
“The worry is that, according to people who know him, [Shishani] is planning to avenge the Prophet Mohammed cartoons in places like Germany, UK, France and all around Christmas time,” Dean said. “I’m afraid I’m not bearing good news but we need to be worried about the wave of terror that is coming from northern Syria and Libya for Christmas this year,” Dean said.
Dean derives his expertise from working as a bomb-maker for Al Qaeda and then informing on the group for eight years, the Daily Mail reported.
Dean raised a particular warning that European leaders trying to lift coronavirus related lockdowns around the Christmas holiday are only further enticing the terrorist plotters.
“This promise of no lockdown at Christmas has made it a more attractive timeframe for targeting,” Dean said. “Already they have been thinking about it, already they have been looking at it and I feel this will be the next target.”
In March 2016, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Shishani was confirmed to have been killed by a 2016 U.S. airstrike, though rumors have since circulated he is still alive and Dean’s latest claims suggest he is continuing to plan terror attacks.
In October, French teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded by a after reportedly sharing images depicting the Prophet Mohammed. The following week, three more people were killed at a Church in Nice, France.
French authorities have since begun investigations of numerous Muslim mosques and Islamist extremist suspects. The Daily Mail reported France has removed 66 undocumented migrants suspected of radicalization.
In November, U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel raised the country’s terror threat level to “severe,” the country’s second-highest threat level, following the attacks in France and another attack by an ISIS sympathizer in Vienna, Austria.