The United States has high hopes for new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. His task, to clean up after former PM Nuri al-Maliki and regain the trust of the alienated Sunni areas of Iraq which are currently sheltering ISIS fighters, will be a difficult one. Iraq’s new prime minister knows he owes his new role to both Iranian acquiescence and U.S. support, and al-Abadi is demonstrating that he is America’s man.
On Thursday outside United Nations in New York City, al-Abadi made a disturbing revelation. Speaking in English, the Iraqi prime minister said that his government had captured militants who were planning to attack subway systems in the United States and in Paris – the two nations currently executing airstrikes on ISIS targets inside Iraq.
Al-Abadi revealed that the plot would have been executed by foreign fighters, including French and American citizens, who had recently joined ISIS in Iraq. What’s more, the attack was still in the planning stages. “It has not been disrupted yet,” al-Abadi disclosed. When asked if this attack was imminent, the Iraqi officials said he was not sure.
“Today, while I’m here I’m receiving accurate reports from Baghdad that there were arrests of a few elements and there were networks from inside Iraq to have attacks … on metros of Paris and U.S.,” al-Abadi said, speaking in English. “They are not Iraqis. Some of them are French, some of them are Americans. But they are in Iraq.”
There is just one problem with al-Abadi’s revelation: the United States government doesn’t seem to believe him.
“U.S. law enforcement officials told CBS News they are investigating the threat, but as of overnight, there was still no intelligence on any credible specific plot against the U.S. A half-dozen French officials contacted by The Associated Press said they knew of no plot,” CBS News reported.
“We have not confirmed such a plot, and would have to review any information from our Iraqi partners before making further determinations,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said. “We take any threat seriously and always work to corroborate information we receive from our partners.”
NBC’s Kristen Welker revealed that Iraqi officials did not bring up this pressing threat to global security in their meetings with Iraqi officials in New York City ahead of the United Nations General Assembly. An FBI source also tells NBC they have seen no evidence of an impending terrorist threat against the New York City subway, the largest underground rail system in the country. Both the FBI and the NYPD said that al- Abadi’s statement was the first time they had been made aware of any terror threat.
Officials appear to be suspicious of the Iraqi government’s claims, but they are investigating the claims. Taking a softer line than other American officials had, Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, said that administration is taking the threat seriously but that it could not be confirmed.
So from WH to NYC, officials across board are saying publicly they cannot confirm subway terror plot from Iraqi PM.
— Jim Acosta (@JimAcostaCNN) September 25, 2014