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Blair Warns of Continued Terrorist Threat to Britain - 2003-01-21


Senior British officials have issued new and dire warnings about terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair says it is only a matter of time before international terrorists try to attack Britain. The prime minister told a parliamentary committee that an ongoing police counter-terrorism sweep is producing new evidence of the threat Britain faces.

"We can see evidence from the recent arrests that the terrorist network is here, as it is around the rest of Europe and the rest of the world," he said. "And I think it is important that we do everything we can to try to show people the link between the issue of weapons of mass destruction and these international terrorist groups, mainly linked to al-Qaida."

Mr. Blair says he can confirm there are links between al-Qaida and certain individuals in Iraq whom he did not identify. Mr. Blair said there are no known ties between the terrorist network and the Iraqi government.

In a separate appearance in parliament, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also warned of the threats posed by al-Qaida and Iraq.

"The two greatest threats facing Britain and its citizens in the next decade are terrorists and rogue states with weapons of mass destruction," he said. "The most dangerous terrorist organization is al-Qaida. The most aggressive rogue state is Iraq."

Anti-terrorist police continue to interrogate six North Africans and an Eastern European man arrested Monday in a dramatic raid on a north London mosque.

The police are also searching through computers and documents seized in the raid, and they are tracing the source of credit cards and identity documents found in the mosque.

The AFP news agency reports from Paris that some forged French passports and identity cards were seized. Several terrorist suspects arrested recently by British police are said to be Algerian exiles who came to Britain from France.