Drone death man 'being groomed to head UK terror group'

A drone aircraft
Image caption The drone attack took place in September and killed several militants.

A British terror suspect killed in a drone attack was being groomed to head an al-Qaeda splinter group in the UK, the BBC's Newsnight has learnt.

The man, named in Pakistan as Abdul Jabbar, died in the north west of the country in September.

Newsnight spoke to a "a trusted, senior security source" overseas who said Jabbar intended to lead a group called the Islamic Army of Great Britain.

Whitehall officials have declined to comment on the BBC's report.

Europe plot

The programme also said the security source confirmed that Jabbar was a British citizen with a British wife. He was living in the Jhelum area of Punjab in Pakistan.

According to Newsnight, intelligence agencies monitored a meeting of 300 militants three months ago in the Ambarshaga area of North Waziristan, attended by Jabbar and militants from the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

The source said that Jabbar was put forward as the leader of the new terrorist group, which was tasked with preparing Mumbai-style commando attacks against targets in Britain, France and Germany.

Details of the plot first emerged in the US media, and the suspicions were confirmed by security sources to the BBC last month.

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Media captionNewsnight's Richard Watson explains what is known about Abdel Jabbar

The revelations saw the US, UK, Sweden and Japan issue updated advice to citizens travelling in Europe to warn of the possibility of terror attacks there.

Newsnight's source said the intelligence led to the drone attacks on 8 September, in which Jabbar and three other militants were killed.

Analysts say the US is the only force capable of deploying drone aircraft in the region but the American military does not routinely confirm such operations.

Western intelligence sources have said the plan in Europe was for small teams of militants to seize and kill hostages

They were to model their mission on the bloody attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai on 26 November 2008, which left 166 people dead.

Ten gunmen attacked buildings including the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower and Oberoi-Trident hotels, the city's historic Victoria Terminus train station, and the Jewish cultural center, Chabad House, during the three-day siege.

All but one were killed.

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