Friday, January 04, 2008

Terror threat leads to cancellation of Dakar Rally

Thanks again, peaceful Muslims! Once again you are the turds in the punchbowl, threatening the infidels with bombs and mayhem and ruining a perfectly good time. Hope your happy now.

An attack linked to al-Qaida and terror threats against the Dakar Rally forced organizers to cancel the annual race on Friday, the eve of the 5,760-mile trek across North African desert scrubland and savannah.

It was the first time the automobile, motorbike and truck rally has been called off in its 30-year history.

In a statement, organizers blamed "threats launched directly against the race by terrorist organizations." the Dec. 24 killings of a French family and international tensions.

"No other decision but the cancellation of the sporting event could be taken," organizers said.

France, where the race organizers are based, had urged the rally to avoid Mauritania after the four family members were killed in an attack blamed on a terror cell that uses the Mauritanian desert as a hideout.

Officials say the cell is linked to the Algeria-based al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa, which has claimed responsibility for a series of deadly attacks, including the Dec. 11 twin suicide bombings at U.N. offices and a government building in Algiers, which killed at least 37 people.

Mauritania's foreign minister criticized the decision to scrap the race.

"This decision has no relationship with the actual security situation in Mauritania, a country that has always been stable and peaceful," said Foreign Minister Babah Sidi Abdallah.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he did not want to "stigmatize" Mauritania, but warned of the risks "in a very uncertain region and one crossed by the networks of al-Qaida in North Africa."

Daniel Bilalian, head of sports at rally co-sponsor France Televisions, told Europe-1radio there had been "direct threats aimed at the race by terror groups," without specifying.

Al-Qaida in North Africa, in a Dec. 29 statement posted on an Internet site that it often uses, criticized Mauritania's government for "providing suitable environments to the infidels for the rally." It did not directly call for attacks on the race or its participants.

More at the link.