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Britain Calls for Increased Vigilance Amid Fears of Terrorist Attack - 2002-11-11


British Prime Minister Tony Blair says there has been a surge of new intelligence about a possible terrorist attack in the British Isles. He has warned the public to remain vigilant, but not to become paralyzed by the threats.

Prime Minister Blair used his annual foreign policy address at a London banquet Monday night to explain how his government handles the threat of new attacks by the al-Qaida terrorist network.

He spoke as intelligence analysts warn of possible terrorist strikes before year's end in Britain or elsewhere in Europe.

Mr. Blair says the dilemma for his government and the people of Britain is to maintain vigilance without crippling the economy and social life. "If on the basis of a general warning, we were to shut down all the places that al-Qaida and the terrorists might be considering for attack, we would be doing their job for them," he said.

Mr. Blair says modern-day terrorism knows no bounds of geography or of scale, as evidenced by the attacks against the United States last year and the recent Bali bomb blast and the Moscow theater siege.

The prime minister said the world community also must realize that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is arousing much of what he called "the passion and anger" that Islamic terrorists exploit.

Mr. Blair is urging renewed Middle East peace negotiations, preferably before the end of this year.

"Until this happens, this issue hangs like a dark shadow over our world, chilling our relations with each other, poisoning the understanding of our motives, and providing the cover under which the fanatics build their strength," he said.

He said the United States must provide full engagement and leadership on the Middle East crisis, and that the world agenda cannot be restricted just to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

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