Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Intel services show al-Qaida cells spreading in UK

Britain's map of terror
Publishing Date: 30.07.07 15:10
LONDON - Britain's joint intelligence services have produced a map of the full extent of al-Qaida terrorist cells in the country, counting more than 200 - far in excess of previous estimates.
MI5 and MI6 have identified 35 separate cells in London operating not only in predominantly Muslim quarters but also in affluent suburbs such as Hendon, Putney and even Wimbledon.
A further eight cells are identified as operating within expanding Muslim communities in Leicester, Birmingham, Derby and Nottingham.
In the conurbation of Leeds, Bradford and Manchester - an area long regarded by the intelligence services as a breeding ground of UK-born terrorists - another 60 Islamic networks appear on the map.
Across the border into Wales, 10 are pinpointed as being "active" in the cities of Cardiff and Swansea and also in the Brecon Mountains. A year before the London bombings, four of the bombers later were identified as having trained there.
Twelve further networks are pinpointed as operating in Scotland, including Glasgow. Last month, two terrorists attempted to firebomb the city's airport. The map shows Northern Ireland has two groups of al-Qaida supporters operating out of Belfast.
After becoming radicalized, the report attached to the map states: "They melt into their communities as sleeper agents and maintain contact when they meet at Friday prayers at the local mosque. Their deep cover is provided by their daily jobs as schoolteachers, college tutors, doctors and nurses, shopkeepers and salesmen."
Most of the groups consist of two or three members: a few comprise up to a dozen and more, a growing number of which are women. "
The popular image of the uneducated terrorist of the IRA has long gone," says the report. "Al-Qaida seeks to recruit university graduates rather than the street-corner dropouts. With deep-cover jihadists waiting to be activated, they observe police procedures and how legal weaknesses in British society can be exploited."
Knowing the jihadists are there but taking action against them before they are about to commit an act of terrorism is not easy. Neither MI5 nor MI6 have power of arrest, which is the sole prerogative of the Anti-Terrorist Command at Scotland Yard, and Britain's Human Rights lawyers make full use of the country's laws to challenge arrests.
In a briefing to his senior officers about the map, John Scarlett, the head of MI6, reminded them: "This is clear evidence we are in a global war against terrorism and we must fully engage it on those terms."
Gordon Thomas is the author of "Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad," which was published in a new edition in January. He specializes in international intelligence matters.


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