Iraqi militia groups have drawn up detailed plans to seize Britain's Prince Harry as a hostage or even try and assassinate him when he arrives in the stife-torn country next month, a report said in London on Sunday.
Some of the most notorious paramilitary factions in southern Iraq claim they have informants placed inside British military barracks in Iraq to track the third in line to the
British throne, The Observer stated, citing interviews with Shia and Sunni insurgent leaders.
Despite the threats, officials ruled out the possibility that the prince, who is a 2nd Lieutenant in the Blues and Royals Regiment, might not be sent to Maysan, the most volatile province in southern Iraq, where British casualties are mounting.
"We have not concealed the fact that he (Harry) is going out there and the bad guys know that he is coming, and we expect that they will consider him as a high-profile scalp," said a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence.
Harry will serve with the Blues and Royals for a six-month tour of duty. He is trained as a troop leader to take command of four Scimitars and will be deployed in Iraq alongside 11 men who will serve under him.
Militia leaders claim photographs of Harry have already been downloaded from the internet and disseminated to insurgent groups.
"We are awaiting the arrival of the young, handsome, spoilt prince with baited breath. We will be generous with him. For he will return him to his grandmother (the Queen) but without ears," Abu Zaid, commander of the Malik Ibn Al Ashtar Brigade of the notorious Mehdi Army militia, was quoted as saying by the report.
The Shia leader also said if plans to abduct the prince failed then militias would try and assassinate him.
"Our sniper teams have also been issued with pictures so they will know his face long before he arrives in our land."
Abu Samir, a leader of the Iranian-backed Sunni group Thar-allah added: 'Our people are ready to welcome him in their special way - like Leachman.' This was a reference to British officer Colonel Gerard Leachman who was murdered by Sheikh Dhari, a tribal leader, in Iraq in 1920.
A senior British army officer, who has completed three tours of duty in Basra, said on Saturday that Harry's imminent arrival in Iraq was causing 'disquiet at senior levels,' and described him as the 'mother of all targets.'