Al Qaeda said to have cruise ships on terror wish list

CNN is carrying a story that says that German cryptologists have discovered al Qaeda documents that outline a number of plans - including one to seize cruise ships, hold passengers hostage, dress them in orange jump suits, murder them and upload video of the killlings to broadcsat via satellite.

It will hardly be a surprise that Al Qaeda sees cruise ships as a tempting target, just as it does airliners. What is not clear from the reportage is to what extent the documents indicate a plot in progress as opposed to wishful thinking. CNN says that while the documentation does not include dates or places, nor specific plans, it appears to be a brainstorming exercise to seize the initiative -- and reinstate al Qaeda on front pages around the world.

The documents were embedded inside a porn clip that was on a memory disc concealed within the underpants of an Austrian national named Maqsood Lodin who was detained in Berlin May 16, 2012, after returning to Europe from Pakistan.

"Several weeks later, after laborious efforts to crack a password and software to make the file almost invisible, German investigators discovered encoded inside the actual video a treasure trove of intelligence -- more than 100 al Qaeda documents that included an inside track on some of the terror group's most audacious plots and a road map for future operations," says CNN.

The CNN story can be accessed here. It is based on original reporting in Die Zeit and, if your German is up to it, you can get that story here.

May 1, 2012