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U.S. knows of no subway plot, official says after Iraqi PM's warning

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi during the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 24, 2014.

KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

A senior Obama administration official says no one in the U.S. government is aware of a plot for an attack on subway systems in the U.S. and Paris.

(Who are the Islamic State? Get caught up with The Globe's primer)

Iraq's Prime Minister says his country's intelligence operation has uncovered the plot. But the U.S. official says the plot was never brought up in meetings with Iraqi officials this week in New York.

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President Barack Obama met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. The Iraqi leader told journalists Thursday that the plot was the work of foreign fighters of the Islamic State group in Iraq.

The administration official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

A half-dozen French officials contacted by Associated Press said they knew of no plot.

Al-Abadi said he was told of the purported plot by officials in Baghdad, and that it was the work of foreign fighters who had joined the Islamic State group in Iraq, including French and U.S. nationals.

Asked if the attacks were imminent, he said, "I'm not sure." Asked if the attacks had been thwarted, he said, "No, it has not been disrupted yet … this is a network."

"Today, while I'm here I'm receiving accurate reports from Baghdad that there were arrests of a few elements and there were networks from inside Iraq to have attacks … on metros of Paris and U.S.," al-Abadi said, speaking in English. "They are not Iraqis. Some of them are French, some of them are Americans. But they are in Iraq."

Al-Abadi declined to give the location in the United States where the said attack was being plotted.

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The Islamic State extremists' blitz in Iraq and Syria prompted the United States to launch air strikes in Iraq last month, to aid Kurdish forces who were battling the militants and to protect religious minorities. Western leaders have voiced concern that the Islamic State group would move its terror operations outside the Middle East.

John Miller, the New York Police Department's top counterterrorism official, said they were aware of the Iraqi official's statements "and we are in close contact with the FBI and other federal partners as we assess this particular threat stream."

New York is the home to the country's largest subway system.

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