South African police said on Monday they were investigating report of an alleged al—Qaeda plot targeting the World Cup, after a Saudi army officer was arrested in Iraq on Monday, allegedly in connection with such a plot.

A spokesman for the Iraqi military spokesman General Qassem Atta said on Monday in Baghdad that Saudi Colonel Azzam al—Qahtani, also known as Sanan al—Saudi, was arrested on suspicion of involvement in attacks on religious sites in the cities of Karbala and Najaf.

The spokesman said al—Qahtani was also accused of being in contact with Ayman al—Zawahiri, al—Qaeda’s second in command, over an alleged plot to target the June 11—July 11 World Cup.

He did not say when or where the Saudi, who is alleged to have entered Iraq in 2004, was arrested.

Reacting to the report, South African national police spokesman Vishnu Naidoo told SAPA news agency: “I know absolutely nothing about that, I am making inquiries.” Musa Zondi, spokesman for national police commissioner Bheki Cele, also told SAPA he was not aware of the arrest.

Mr. Cele said recently he knew of no terrorist threat to the World Cup.

On Monday, the police and army staged a display of their readiness to secure the Cup in Johannesburg’s Sandton business and hotel district, parading scores of vehicles and other equipment through the streets and demonstrating parachuting from aircraft.

The main threat to the Cup has generally been deemed to be violent crime. Around 50 people are murdered in South Africa each day, one of the world’s highest murder rates.

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