Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How many terrorists in Britain?

Dame Stella Rimington, a former MI5 chief, (who) called for an urgent tightening of border controls.
"While the free movement of people is a great concept, if it includes people who want to kill us, there has to be an urgent increase in the checking process."
**
MI5 chief counts 4,000 trained in Afghanistan
Publishing Date: 24.07.07 06:53
By Gordon Thomas
LONDON -- MI5 chief Jonathan Evans has provided Britain's new Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, the first woman to hold the position, with an alarming report that some 4,000 British-born Islamic extremists have attended training camps in Afghanistan before returning to Britain. The figure is double previous estimates and demonstrates how Prime Minister Gordon Brown's plans for tighter checks on all British air and sea ports will have come too late to keep out many dangerous individuals. The figures cover a period from when Afghanistan was a prime terrorist center for al-Qaida and remained so until the end of 2001 when America and Britain invaded the country. Since then the training camps have moved to Iran alongside the Pakistan border with Afghanistan. Every year 400,000 journeys are made between Britain and Pakistan and the 4,000 figure is based on an MI5 analysis that "at least 10 percent of the travelers have some link with terrorism, either as al-Qaida sympathizers or as sleeper agents." The revelations have raised alarm with the new home secretary that UK border controls must be "urgently tightened." She has accepted the figures are over double the estimate the service's previous director-general, Eliza Manningham-Buller, gave shortly before she retired earlier this year. Within Britain's intelligence community, Manningham-Buller is seen as a victim of MI5's failure to keep the country safe, culminating in the London bombings of July 2005. Her time in office saw the emergence of a number of British terrorists trained in Afghanistan. They included Richard Reid and Saajid Badat, both of whom attempted to blow up aircraft with shoe bombs. Dhiren Barot, now serving 30 years for plotting to launch a "dirty bomb" made from stolen nuclear rods from a London hospital, was another graduate from an Afghanistan training camp. The most notorious are Mohammed Sidique, the leader of the July bombers in London, and members of an Islamist group who plotted to blow up nightclubs and shopping malls in the capital. An MI5 officer said: "Our prime concern is where are those 4,000 now? Even allowing that some may have given up terrorist activities or have left the UK to fight in Iraq, there are still a significant number who could create mayhem." Ronald K Noble, the secretary-general of Interpol, last week bluntly accused the new Brown government, like its predecessor under Tony Blair, of failing to "check people entering Britain against the Interpol database of suspects." The criticism was echoed by Dame Stella Rimington, a former MI5 chief, who called for an urgent tightening of border controls. "While the free movement of people is a great concept, if it includes people who want to kill us, there has to be an urgent increase in the checking process." Until last week's MI5 report, it has not been possible to estimate how many extremists have been trained in the al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan and in the North West Frontier of Pakistan. But the Evans report puts the figure at "a minimum of 30,000 and possibly double that."
Gordon Thomas, a regular G2B contributor, is the author of "Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad," the new edition of which was published in January 2007. He specializes in international intelligence matters.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home