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https://twitter.com/rjrasva/status/700683354996211712

Lack of Muslims in Japan prevented al Qaeda attack on 2002 World Cup Sun, February 15, 2004 http://zeenews.india.com/home/lack-of-muslims-in-japan-prevented-al-qaeda-attack-on-2002-world-cup_146208.html

were never carried out was because al-Qaeda had not been able to build up a network in Japan theguardian.com/world/2004/may…

The tweet references a mainstream media report published in 2004, but I'm a little skeptical for a couple of reasons. Sometimes individual news reports are mistaken, and sometimes individual individual assessments by counter-terrorism agencies are mistaken. I'm also skeptical because misinformation about Japan and Islam has been fairly popular.

Did Al Qaeda attempt to commit a terrorist attack in Japan, and fail to take place at least in part because of a lack of Muslim manpower?

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This is indeed based on a report provided by the US government to Japanese press and published in Japan on 14 February 2004. According to that day's Sankei Shinbun (no longer publicly available online), the plan never became concrete due to lack of Al Qaeda infrastructure in Japan.

The English headline "Lack of Muslims in Japan prevented al Qaeda attack" is an incorrect summary of that report. As reported in the top answers to the question Is Islam banned in Japan?, it is incorrect that Japan keeps out Muslims generally. In fact there are roughly 100,000 in the country, many with permanent visa or citizenship. There has even been a probable Islamist terrorist attack in Japan, the assassination of Hitoshi Igarashi. But yes, KSM did say that they did not have an Al Qaeda cell there as of 2001. The situation was different after KSM's arrest.

Lionel Dumont, a suspected Al Qaeda affiliate, lived in Japan from 2002-2004. It does not seem that he recruited anyone else, although a Muslim acquaintance of his was falsely reported as a terrorist when he was arrested on unrelated charges. In 2007, ABC News cited unidentified "Japanese intelligence sources" to claim that there was an active Al Qaeda branch in Japan that had planned an attack.

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    Igarasi's murder being Islamist is only (very plausible) speculation, not based on factual evidence. – Andrew Grimm Apr 12 '16 at 13:13

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