Sunday, April 17, 2005

Met Chief Issues Fresh Terror Warning

Britain's most senior policeman has issued a new warning about the threat of al Qeada terrorists targeting the UK.Sir Ian Blair is calling for new laws to tackle terrorist conspiracies and has asked for the introduction of ID cards to be given further consideration.His comments come in an interview to be broadcast on the Breakfast with Frost programme.

And they follow the jailing of Kamel Bourgass for murdering a policeman and conspiring to cause a public nuisance after police unravelled an al Qaeda ricin poison plot.

Sir Ian told Sir David Frost: "There's real clarity now that al Qaeda affiliates are targeting Britain - that's the first thing.

"Secondly, I think we obviously have to mourn the death of Stephen Oake.

"Thirdly, the important point is to say this is one individual, not the whole Muslim community who are law-abiding and we have to work to support them."

Speaking on the BBC show, he added: "99.9% of Muslims and 99.9% of Asians are law-abiding people and we've got to support them in that and understand the difference.

"What is it that drives a tiny number of young men and women into extreme violence?

"Lastly, how does the legal system deal with cases of this sort. I think there will be a number of questions to be asked about whether the law is quite right."

He added in the pre-recorded interview: "The way that al Qaeda operates is in a sense of very loose knit conspiracies.

"The way English law has developed is it doesn't like conspiracies. It likes actual offences.

"And where one person does something and another person does another thing but it's only when they add up that they become a conspiracy ... I think we're going to have to just look again to see whether there is some other legislation around acts preparatory to terrorism, or something of that nature - that's what we'll have to do."

Sir Ian said he had not been keen on ID cards until recently but now believed there should be further consideration, particularly in light of the growth of identity theft.

"There are no more printing presses in basements. The documents that are being produced are exactly identical to the real documents, they're just unauthorised.

"And so we have to go to a place where we do know who people are. We now have the technology, I think through iris recognition, to go to that and I think that would be very helpful.

"One of the things about some of the Belmarsh detainees and indeed Bourgass is we do not know who he is. At one stage or other we've got to start with a position where we do know who people are."

Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights group Liberty, said: "Liberty remains clear that the case for compulsory ID cards has not been made.

"More importantly, however, it is time for Blair the Police Commissioner to create some distance from his political namesake.

"Law enforcement and other vital services must remain politically neutral - especially during an election campaign. Politicians come and go but the public needs confidence that policing goes on regardless."

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