January 27, 2008


The warning, posted last week by a new group calling itself Al-Qaeda in Britain, states that Al-Qaeda "martyrdom seekers" — code for suicide bombers — will target Brown, Blair and other political leaders unless its demands are met by the end of March. It stated that the attacks would start unless all British troops were pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan and all Islamic terror suspects were released from Belmarsh high security prison.

It singles out Abu Qatada, the alleged leader of Al-Qaeda in Europe, and Abu Hamza, the preacher of hate, as the two prisoners it most wants to be set freed. There are more than 115 Islamic prisoners held under anti-terror laws in high security jails in Britain.About 50 of these are held together in a special wing in Belmarsh, south London. About 40 of those are on remand awaiting trial.

Security experts are divided about the true identity of the group and the significance that should be attached to the warning. A Whitehall official said MI5 was aware of the internet statement and intelligence officers were investigating its origins. The official played down the threat but, significantly, did not dismiss it.

"We do come across quite a lot of this kind of stuff. We judge it to be aspirational rather than to be taken literally. People who plan to carry out attacks tend to do it covertly," she said.


Skepticism greets "Al Qaeda in Britain" founding

"You don't ignore this sort of thing," Pauline Neville-Jones, the former head of the British joint intelligence committee, told the Newsnight program.

"It may not be a threat from an existing cell ... but it does represent a move in the propaganda game and the propaganda game is not something we should ignore. This is after all a struggle over ideology."

Britain has become the main target for a resurgent al-Qaida, which has successfully regrouped and now presents a greater threat than ever before, according to counter-terrorist officials.

The court documents, part of the trial of seven Al-Qaeda suspects, reveal that after September 11 the network began to train a new army of suicide units, codenamed Force 9. Investigators say more than 200 terrorists were recruited.

Al-Qaeda's leadership has surveyed the world and it has identified Britain both as a rich source of recruits and as an important target. The leaders' simple strategy is to put the two together, so today their proxies know every way there is to take average young British men and deliver them to martyrdom.

Shortly before his untimely death, former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the House of Commons that "Al Qaeda" is not really a terrorist group but a database of international mujaheddin and arms smugglers used by the CIA and Saudis to funnel guerrillas, arms, and money into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan.

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