Thursday, December 28, 2006

Islamist terrorism threat greater than IRA ever posed, says British police chief

Tania Branigan:

Britain faces a threat of "unparalleled nature" from Islamist terrorism which is greater than the dangers ever posed by the IRA, the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, said yesterday.

There was no specific evidence of any immediate threat, he said, playing down a recent suggestion from the home secretary, John Reid, that an attack was highly likely before Christmas.

But officers and the intelligence services lacked the resources to follow all plots and had yet to penetrate terrorist networks effectively. He also warned that the government needed to establish greater control of its borders.

"The level of threat is of an unparalleled nature and growing," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "In terms of civilians - you would have to go back to probably either the second world war or cold war for that threat.

"The IRA, with very few exceptions, did not want to carry out mass atrocities, they didn't want to die, they gave warnings and they were heavily penetrated by the intelligence services. None of those apply with al-Qaida and its affiliates."



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