Younis al-Mauretani, a top Al-Qaeda leader operating from Pakistan, is behind the plot to stage Mumbai-type attacks on key European countries like the U.K., Germany and France, a media report said on Wednesday.

Ahmed Sidiqi, an Afghan-German detained in Kabul in July, has told Western investigators that Mauretani is directing the conspiracy to stage Mumbai-style attacks on European cities, CNN quoted European intelligence officials as saying.

They say Sidiqi has told interrogators that while in the tribal areas of Pakistan he met Mauretani, who was planning multiple attacks on European countries that would be similar to the strike on Mumbai in 2008.

Little is known about Mauretani, but he is thought to be from North Africa and involved with Al-Qaeda's “external operations”. He is thought to be in the tribal areas on the Pakistan-Afghan border, said the report.

According to Sidiqi, Mauritani has become Al-Qaeda's third most senior leader.

European intelligence officials say Sidiqi has revealed that Mauretani planned to come to Europe with two other Germans to prepare the attacks. The two Germans were part of the group Sidiqi travelled with from Hamburg in 2009.

One was Naamen Meziche, who was of Algerian descent, and the other was Shahab Dashti, a German-Iranian. According to Sidiqi, both were involved in the conspiracy, said a European counter-terrorism official.

The official said German authorities have begun checking Sidiqi's claims with information from another member of the Hamburg group in custody in Germany, Rami Makanesi.

There are around 40 Germans believed still to be with ‘jihadist' groups in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

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