Al Qaeda-Linked Group Threatens Europe

A statement purportedly from an Al Qaeda-linked group threatens "waterfalls of blood" in European cities because the continent didn't respond to Usama bin Laden's (search ) demand that they leave Iraq and Afghanistan within three months.

The statement, dated Wednesday, was posted on an Islamic Web Site known for its extremist content. It was written in the name of the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades (search ), which has made similar threats in the past,

According to the threat, Italy will be the first to face attack for not meeting bin Laden's demand. Premier Silvio Berlusconi (search ) has been a steadfast U.S. ally and contributed about 3,000 soldiers to the coalition, behind only the United States and Britain. Poland has about 2,400 troops in Iraq, while several other European countries have smaller contingents there.

"We will create waterfalls of blood that will drag you to their depths. You have condemned your people to that. The infidel Europe has done the same to its people by following America. We will destroy European cities, starting by you, Berlusconi," the statement said. "The cities will bleed until all of you, European leaders and people, come to your senses. Withdraw your deadly missions from Iraq."

The same group made a similar threat against Italy on Monday.

There was no immediate comment from the Italian government, but it had approved continued funding for the Iraq mission Tuesday, a day after the other statement.

In an audiotape on April 15, bin Laden said he was calling a truce for three months and urged European states to leave Iraq, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries within that period or risk a terror campaign.

There was no way to verify the authenticity of the statement. U.S. officials and some terrorism experts believe Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, which claimed responsibility for the Madrid train bombings that killed about 191 people on March 11, lacks credibility and has only tenuous ties to Al Qaeda. It has issued claims for events in which it almost certainly had no involvement, including blackouts in North America and Britain.

"Today, we have declared a bloody war against you. We will not stop our attacks until you have come to your senses," the statement said.

A spokesman for the Polish Foreign Ministry, Boguslaw Majewski, said the government had no knowledge of the threat and was not reacting to it.

"At some point you lose track of these threats," he said. "There is no official reaction, there is no knowledge of any potential threats whatsoever."