Analysis: Britain remains top terror target two years after July 7 London bomb attacks

6th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

6 July 2007, London (dpa) - The recent failed car bomb attacks in Britain have reinforced the findings of terrorism experts that, two years after the transport suicide bombings in London, Britain is the European country facing the gravest threat from al-Qaeda-linked terrorism. The second anniversary on July 7 of the suicide attacks on London Underground (Tube) trains and a bus, in which 52 people were killed and more than 700 injured, is therefore being marked in a mood of gloom and despondency. A low-key

6 July 2007

London (dpa) - The recent failed car bomb attacks in Britain have reinforced the findings of terrorism experts that, two years after the transport suicide bombings in London, Britain is the European country facing the gravest threat from al-Qaeda-linked terrorism.

The second anniversary on July 7 of the suicide attacks on London Underground (Tube) trains and a bus, in which 52 people were killed and more than 700 injured, is therefore being marked in a mood of gloom and despondency.

A low-key wreath-laying ceremony will be held at King's Cross station to mark the spot which became the focus for floral tributes following the attacks two years ago.

But the families of the victims, saying that their grief is still "unbearably raw," have chosen to mark the second anniversary privately.

Many of them remain at odds with the government over the authorities' persistent refusal to hold a public inquiry into the 7/7 events in London.

Analysts have said that, judging by the rhetoric of the al-Qaeda leadership, the United States doubtlessly remained the "number one target," but the "greatest risk of being killed by a terrorist is elsewhere."

The wave of radicalization of young Muslims triggered by September 11, 2001 and its aftermath had "washed up on the other side of the Atlantic," leaving the countries of Europe as the western societies most at risk.

Within Europe, Britain appeared to face the gravest threat. For the fourth successive year, British police and security services had been overwhelmed by the number and scale of the plots they have encountered.

Peter Clarke, Britain's anti-terrorism chief, overspent his budget of 100 million pounds (200 million dollars) by 21 million pounds last year, the Financial Times reported.

The police and intelligence agencies are thought to be monitoring 30 current plots, 200 suspected terrorist cells and close to 2,000 known suspects, intelligence sources say.

The prime focus in recent years has been to counter the domestic threat from radicals who visit Pakistan for training in terrorist camps, such as the July 7 bombers.

But the recent attempted car bombings, following methods adopted by radicals in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, are seen as marking a "grisly new milestone" in Britain's terror threat."

Intelligence officials concede that Britain faces a greater problem than any other country in Europe.

They describe a highly organized process of radicalization among some British Muslims, which was taking place in prisons, universities, mosques and even, as the failed attacks have suggested, in hospitals.

The scale of the threat is amplified, officials say, by the ability of the radicals to travel to Pakistan, where some 400,000 journeys are made there every year from Britain.

The picture is different in other parts of Europe, according to experts. In Spain, France, Italy and Germany, the main threat appeared to come from groups linked to northern Africa.

The new British government under Gordon Brown, while dropping the use of such emotive terms as "war on terror," or Muslims and Islam, from its official vocabulary, insists that the threat levels have nothing to do with Britain's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This, according to their critics, means the government "is in denial."

The government points out that the first al-Qaeda-linked arrests in Britain were made in 2000, "before there were any western boots on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan," and before the events of 9/11.

According to the Guardian newspaper, the British government is "still in the deepest denial about why this country is a target for al-Qaeda-style terror attacks."

Given Britain's role in the Muslim world, it was "surprising" that there had not been more attacks, said the Guardian in a commentary this week, in what it termed the "central part of (Tony) Blair's legacy."

"Until the Brown government makes serious moves to end Britain's role in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the likelihood must be that the threat will grow," the paper said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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