UK facing 'wave' of terror threats

John Reid says there are a "wave" of terror threats facing Britain
John Reid says there are a "wave" of terror threats facing Britain

Britain is facing a "seamless" threat from terrorists and must fight it with a coordinated effort across all government departments, the home secretary has said.

John Reid said intelligence suggested there was a "wave" of suspected plots against the UK, most of them directed from abroad and "specifically by elements of al-Qaida".

Security is expected to be at the top of the agenda in today's Queen's speech, which will set out the government's priorities for the coming parliamentary session.

Ministers are already considering whether the new limits on how long terror suspects can be held without charge should be extended beyond the current 28 days, and other counter-terrorism measures are expected to be announced today.

Chancellor Gordon Brown recently indicated that he would like to see a single security budget, and speaking this morning, Mr Reid made clear that an overarching strategy was needed to deal with terrorism.

"The threat from al-Qaida is a seamless one. It is no longer capable of being divided into just defence or foreign affairs issues or domestic issues. There is a seamless threat and we must have a seamless response," he told Today.

Last week, the head of MI5 warned there were 30 serious plots aimed at the country at the moment. Eliza Manningham-Buller said her organisation was currently monitoring at least 1,600 terror suspects.

And today Mr Reid said there were "many other discussions, conspiracies, what you could call plots going on", but stressed the 30 mentioned by the spy chief were the "most serious".

"They do look as though they are being directed from abroad, specifically by elements of al-Qaida. Secondly, they look as though they are being prepared strategically. That is, they fit in to a pattern," he said.

"Thirdly, some of these look to me that they are at the stage where some suspected plots that have been uncovered were about a year ago or 15 months ago. It looks as though there is a wave of such things."

He added: "What Eliza Manningham-Buller, the director general of MI5, said was a salutary warning and I think it carries a great deal of weight."


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