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London's Police Chief Calls For Better Worldwide Information Sharing - 2001-12-28


London's police chief, John Stevens, says the arrest of accused British "shoe bomb" suspect Richard Reid points out the need for better communication among the world's law enforcement agencies.

Police Chief Stevens says the Reid case underscores the need for more intelligence-sharing between law enforcement agencies around the world. He says Scotland Yard had not heard of Mr. Reid before he was arrested on Saturday after allegedly trying to bomb a U.S. jetliner over the Atlantic. Police found plastic explosives in the soles of Mr. Reid's shoes.

Mr. Stevens says his department was not notified by Israeli authorities who questioned Mr. Reid as he attempted to board a flight there in July.

U.S. and European police officials say there is evidence that over the past six months Mr. Reid could have visited Israel, Egypt, the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

Mr. Stevens told British radio his department is working more closely with Britain's domestic and foreign intelligence agencies - MI 5 and MI 6 - to monitor London-based Islamic militants in the wake of September's terrorist attacks in the United States. "I think we've all got to accept that September 11 was a wakeup call in terms of fundamental ways of dealing with things in religious terms. Before September 11, we did keep a watching brief on these particular people, with MI 5 and MI 6. September 11 has heightened our awareness and we're into that as well," he said.

In another development, the British prison service says it has suspended three Muslim chaplains who had criticized the United States or praised the terrorist attacks. The prison service says about 130 Muslim clerics continue to work with prisoners and are making a positive contribution to their lives.

Mr. Reid reportedly converted to Islam while serving a prison sentence for theft in the mid-1990s. The head of his London mosque says Mr. Reid later fell under the influence of Islamic radicals who advocated violence against the West.

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