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Dont Forget 9-11

Businesses must not forget the security plans drawn up after September 11, according to Home Secretary David Blunkett.

In a review of the Government?s anti-terrorist action since 9-11, David Blunkett said: “The key for most people, however, is just remembering to be alert and vigilant particularly in the run-up to Christmas. This means keeping an eye out for suspect packages, or people acting suspiciously at stations and airports, for instance, and reporting anything suspicious to the correct authorities.? Mr Blunkett said that risks to the UK because of terrorism related to NI continued ? such as car bombs and parcel bomb in public places, and assassinations. He added: ?But as we have seen with the World Trade Centre and Pentagon attacks, the theatre siege of Moscow, the attack on a French ship off Yemen, the scale of the attacks in Bali, today?s breed of terrorist is looking for ever more dramatic and devastating effect. If Al Qaida could mount an attack upon key economic targets, or upon our transport infrastructure, they would. If they could inflict damage upon the health of our population, they would.?

Homeland security meeting

Recently Mr Blunkett met Governor Tom Ridge, the head of United States Homeland Security, to discuss measures taken by the UK and US to protect the public from terrorism. The meeting coincided with the publication of a document by Mr Blunkett that detailed action in case of a large-scale terrorist attack. It also underlines the threat that remains from international terrorism and that related to Northern Ireland.
Governor Ridge, who was appointed as his country’s first Homeland Security Advisor by President George W Bush following 9-11, was in London for face-to-face meetings with Sir David Omand, the Government’s recently appointed Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator. He also delivered a speech at King’s College London hosted by the International Policy Institute. Mr Blunkett, whose responsibility for domestic security and civil contingency issues in the UK mirrors Tom Ridge’s role, also hosted an official dinner in the Governor’s honour.

Counter terror

The document, Counter Terrorist Action Since 11 September, summarises the past 14 months. In his foreword to the document, Mr Blunkett said: “Since the September 11th attacks we have had some success in damaging Al Qaida’s capability, and in thwarting attacks.ÿ But the terrorist threat remains real, and serious. As recent events have shown, no country is immune from attack, and it simply is not possible to guarantee against more attacks in the future. The visit of the US Director of Homeland Security, with whom I am discussing these issues today, is a useful opportunity to take stock of the situation. I ask the public to understand that no matter how good our intelligence operations may be, there is no such thing as 100pc fool-proof security and British citizens remain at risk from international terrorism and that related to the affairs of Northern Ireland. Whatever damage we have done to Al Qaida, they continue to operate.ÿThey are dedicated fanatical extremists who have no regard for the loss of human life, including their own. Whatever damage they are able to inflict, they will do so. We cannot be sure where or when they will strike. But we can be certain they will try. For government, it means continuing and developing the broad and vigorous programme of protective security work that we are already pursuing.?

Clerical error

Mr Blunkett on November 8 made a statement after the Government admitted a risk assessment of the terrorist threat – specifying theats from ?dirty? bombs – was made public in error. Mr Blunkett blamed ?a simple clerical error within the Home Office?. He defended the document: ?I want to give people the best assessment I can of the nature of the threats we face so that individuals can be vigilant and work with us to do everything we can to minimise the risks we face …. But I have to balance that message against the risk of creating unjustified panic and disruption which would itself give the terrorists the victory they crave.?

Visit www.homeoffice.gov.uk


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