Friday, July 08, 2005

"Whitehall's Joint Terrorist Analysis Centre (Jtac) last month reduced the threat level from al-Qaida terrorism..."

Security, intelligence and police chiefs have been braced for an attack on London, which they regarded as inevitable.

But Whitehall's Joint Terrorist Analysis Centre (Jtac) last month reduced the threat level from al-Qaida terrorism, from "severe - general" to "substantial".

The Guardian has learned that Jtac made the decision on the grounds that the al-Qaida leadership did not have the ability to order a coordinated attack in Britain. But that did not mean a group of individuals broadly sympathetic to al-Qaida did not have the ability to mount attacks on their own initiative.

Jtac said many of its current concerns focused on individuals or groups "only loosely affiliated to al-Qaida or entirely autonomous".

Security officials insisted that the downgrading of the threat level would not have affected the response of the police and emergency services.


Jtac - which includes officials from MI5, MI6, GCHQ and the police - is now reassessing the threat. Both the police and MI5 have been increasingly alarmed by a steady trickle of young British Muslims travelling to Iraq to join insurgent operations. But the threat from them, they believe, would come later.

"We have monitored some of them leaving, sometimes via France, but we haven't yet seen them returning," an intelligence source said last week. "Some of them have multiple identities, which makes them difficult to track."

A senior Metropolitan police source said this week: "Some of them will have been killed out there." Others will have learned a variety of terror methods - including handling weapons and explosives - though not all of that would be relevant in London.

MI5 has drawn up an extensive report on why young British Muslims become radicalised. As well as monitoring human traffic between Britain and Iraq they have been looking at the problem of young Muslims becoming indoctrinated in prison and elsewhere.


The Guardian Unlimited

SOURCE -,12780,1523669,00.html


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