British 'home-grown' terror threat increasing: report
Britain faces a growing threat from home-grown jihadists who are beyond the "radar screen" of intelligence authorities, leaked cables seen by the Telegraph newspaper revealed Thursday.
In the memos, leaked to the British newspaper by the WikiLeaks website, intelligence officials admitted they would be "hard-pressed" to prevent attacks from British-born radicals who undergo training to become "suicide operatives."
According to one cable, a senior official from Britain's secret intelligence service, MI6, told visiting US congressmen that "the internal threat in the UK is growing more dangerous."
The counter-terrorism official claimed this was because extremists could conduct training within Britain and if they "should turn operational" authorities "would be hard pressed to find them on any 'radar screen'."
The unnamed MI6 officer added that it was "wholly or largely dependent" on help from the CIA and other US agencies when it came to monitoring the terror threat.
Fifty-two people were killed in July 2005 when four home-grown suicide bombers blew themselves up on London's transport network.
The documents also exposed US concern that "a certain amount of so-called 'jihadi tourism' to southern Somalia by UK citizens of Somali ethnicity," had been occurring.
Details of a 2009 meeting between British government officials and a senior US State Department representative showed that London was also concerned about Somalia's role as a breeding ground for terrorism.
The British officials noted an increased threat from "home-grown jihadists and radicalized British Somalis..., particularly those who have traveled to Somalia or Pakistan for indoctrination and training," the memo said.
Britain's ability to tackle terrorism was to be further hampered by budget cuts, which meant the Foreign Office (FCO) would have to do "more with less," and by a surge in lawsuits from terror suspects, another document revealed.
"The FCO is among the ministries experiencing severe budget shortfalls," the memo, sent from the US embassy in Nairobi in December 2009, said.
"Exchange rate fluctuations in particular are causing severe cuts to FCO programs, causing a loss of about £13 million from an initial allotment of £39 million just from the FCO's counter-terrorism budget," it added.
US diplomats noted that Britain faced "new challenges" in fighting terrorism following "a wave of litigation related to actions taken after 9/11...including...compensation claims from Guantanamo Bay detainees."
"Legal actions by suspects in terrorist cases are having a severe effect on what counter-terrorism tools are available to the UK authorities," the cable concluded.
Alex Carlile, Britain's independent reviewer of counter-terrorism laws, said Thursday that European human rights legislation had made Britain a "safe haven for some individuals whose determination is to damage the UK."
© 2011 AFP