Slain Qaeda terrorist targeted European hotels

The logo and ironwork over the entrance of The Ritz Hotel is seen Feb. 17, 2011, in London.
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CBS News has confirmed that U.S. officials have been advised that Harun Fazul, the third top ranking al Qaeda terrorist killed last week in Somalia, had in his possession documents outlining a potential plot to attack luxury hotels in London and mainland Europe.

The source told CBS News that authorities do not believe the potential plot was in motion but that it was aspirational, something Fazul was contemplating. The source said that while officials have known that hotels in Europe and the United States are at risk as possible terrorist targets, the information obtained is deemed excellent intelligence to be used in the fight against terrorism.

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The detailed plan provided for al Qaeda operatives to check into guest rooms on various floors of upscale hotels and then set the rooms ablaze, according to the source. One of the hotels identified in the documents was the Ritz Carlton in London.

Another target mentioned in the documents was Eton College, the storied boys' boarding school near Windsor.

Fazul, who was the head of al Qaeda in Africa, is the alleged mastermind behind the 1998 terrorist attack on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 200 people, including many Americans.

He is also suspected of being involved with the bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya in 2002, in which 15 people were killed, and of a simultaneous attempt to shoot down a passenger jet carrying Israeli tourists from the resort town of Mombasa on the Kenyan coast.

He was killed last week at a roadblock in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

He was among the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists with a $5 million bounty on his head.

  • Pat Milton

    Pat Milton is a CBS News investigative producer