MI5 warns Britain facing double terrorism threat

Attack by dissident republicans a 'strong possibility', in addition to continuing risk of al-Qaida-inspired terrorism
Vikram Dodd, Richard Norton-Taylor and Henry McDonald
Friday 24 September 2010 19.38 BST
The home secretary, Theresa May, said an attack in the UK by dissident republicans is now a strong possibility. Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA
英國內政大臣特里薩五月表示,不同政見的共和筆軍在英國的攻擊現在是有很大的可能性。 攝影:劉易斯 Whyld /功率放大器

MI5 today announced there was a "strong possibility" of an attack on the British mainland by dissident Irish republican terrorists, in addition to the continuing risk of al-Qaida-inspired terrorism.

The Guardian has learned of three reasons that have led the domestic intelligence agency to raise the threat level from moderate to substantial.

There is growing concern over the sophistication of attacks being carried out in Northern Ireland. Second, bomb makers with expertise gained from the long Provisional IRA campaign of violence are believed to be now helping dissident republican terrorists. And the capability of the dissidents to stage attacks is thought to be nearly as dangerous as was that of the Provisional IRA.

Today's announcement by the home secretary, Theresa May, means MI5 believes the threat is at its highest for at least a decade. Security officials are combating this threat, plus what is assessed to be the greater threat from al-Qaida-inspired terrorists, who remain "highly likely" to stage an attack.

The Irish assessment was made public on the eve of the two main party political conferences. Labour begins today in Manchester, and is followed next week by the Conservatives in Birmingham.

Dissident republicans have for some time been assessed as wanting to attack the mainland, and now their capability is believed by security officials to be increasing. One source said: "It's of concern that they are getting more sophisticated in their attacks in Northern Ireland. They are getting in former IRA people with [explosives] expertise.

"The dissident Republicans started with crude devices. These have increased in their level of sophistication. They are getting closer to the IRA's capability."

Officials added that the dissidents are not thought able to mount a sustained campaign, but do have British economic or security targets in their sights, the kind that the IRA chose in the early 1990s. Such targets might be banks, the City of London, or army bases or police stations, officials added.

A counter-terrorism official said the raising of the threat level was because of the growing ambition of the dissident Republican terrorists, although MI5 was not aware of any specific targets being identified for attack.

Two weeks ago the Real IRA told the Guardian that future attacks would alternate between "military, political and economic targets".

Last week MI5 head's, Jonathan Evans, opened a speech in London by warning of the growing threat to the UK mainland from Irish-related terrorism.

May said Today: "The director-general of the security service has informed me that he has raised the threat to Great Britain from Irish-related terrorism from moderate to substantial, meaning an attack is a strong possibility. Judgments are based on a broad range of factors, including the intent and capabilities of terrorist groups.

"This is the first time we have published the Irish-related threat assessment to Great Britain. This is in the interests of transparency and to encourage people to remain vigilant."

May added: "We have been consistent in stating that the threat to the UK from terrorism is real and serious.

"The balance we aim to strike is keeping people alert but not alarmed. I would urge the public to report any suspicious activity to the police and security services in their continuing efforts to discover, track and disrupt terrorist activity."


(明報)2010年9月18日 星期六 05:10
【明報專訊】教宗訪英遭遇恐襲驚魂之際,英國 軍情五處(MI5)處長埃文斯(Jonathan Evans)警告,英國正面臨兩股恐怖襲擊威脅,分別是來在新一代蓋達極端分子和愛爾蘭 共和軍武裝分子,英國成為極端勢力襲擊目標,是「遲早的事」。

埃文斯日前發表3年來首個關於國家安全的公開演講,形容MI5人員正與回教極端分子和愛爾蘭激進民族主義者展開「激烈鬥爭」。他指出,蓋達訓練武裝分子的陣地已由巴基斯坦移往歐洲,相當多英國居民正接受與蓋達有關的索馬里「青年黨」(al Shabaab)訓練。據他估計,多達100名有巴基斯坦、孟加拉和西非背景的英國人曾前往索馬里。另一邊廂,有消息指北愛爾蘭有600名強硬的愛爾蘭共和軍成員參與恐怖活動,約為1980年代高峰期的一半。


英國防務智庫王家聯合服務研究院(Royal United Services Institute)上月發表報告警告,在英國監獄內受到激進思潮影響的回教徒,可能受蓋達招募。報告稱,為數約800人的「具有潛在暴力傾向的激進分子」將在未來5至10年走出監獄,重返社會。


(星島)2010年9月25日 星期六 08:56
英國 內政部24日宣布,來自愛爾蘭 的恐怖主義威脅增強,決定將與愛爾蘭有關的恐怖主義威脅等級從「中等」提高到「較嚴重」。