Sunday, December 10, 2006
John Reid, UK Home Secretary, alerted the country to the very high risk of terrorist attack during the Christmas season. He said on GMTV’s Sunday programme, that he knew of approximately thirty conspiracies that were preparing to attack and that the level of alert on the MI5 web site now stands at the second highest level “severe”.
The Joint Terrorist Analysis Centre (JTAC) reports that the most serious threat comes from Al Quaida and similar networks of Islamist extremists. They are described by MI5 as “radicalised individuals who are using a distorted Islamic faith to justify violence. They are a very small proportion of the Muslim community in UK."
The scale of threat is described as “potentially increasing and not likely to diminish significantly for some years”. Mr Reid said that the threat is likely to “continue for longer than a generation”. He reminded the country that republican terrorism continued for thirty years. According to JTAC those who threaten the country at present include dissident republican Irish groups which will not accept the terms of the Good Friday Agreement (April 1998).
A further threat arises from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which include nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. In 2003-2004, the Security Services claim to have disrupted some 30 “proven or suspected attempts” to obtain materials or information related to WMD for other countries.
As part of the counter terrorist activity, trials have now started of the use of biometric identification at London Heathrow airport where passengers willing to submit their details are fast tracked through passport control.
Whereas MI5 points to Iraq as having become a "dominant issue for a range of extremist groups and individuals in the UK and Europe", Mr Reid referred to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict saying that “it fuels international terrorism”. Prime Minister Blair said at a recent press conference with President Bush that he is preparing to engage in peace talks with Israel and Palestine.
== Related news item ==
"Bush reacts to the Iraq Study Report" — Wikinews, December 8, 2006
== Sources ==
"Christmas attack 'highly likely'" — BBC, December 10, 2006
"The Threats" — MI5, December 10, 2006
"Heathrow begins biometric trials" — BBC, December 6, 2006