Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Al-Qaida in Syria is most serious terrorist threat to UK, says report

Al-Qaida in Syria is most serious terrorist threat to UK, says report


Intelligence and security committee report warns of catastrophic

consequences should militants get hold of chemical weapons


    Richard Norton-Taylor, Wednesday 10 July 2013 10.36 EDT         


Al-Qaida elements fighting with rebels in Syria constitute the most serious

terrorist threat to Britain, and if they were to get their hands on Syria's

chemical weapons the consequences could be catastrophic, according to

British spymasters.


The warnings, in the latest annual report of the parliamentary intelligence

and security committee (ISC) published on Wednesday, come amid growing

reports that Syrian rebels are trying to acquire chemical weapons.


Russia said on Wednesday it had proof Syrian rebels used the nerve agent

sarin in a missile attack on a government-controlled suburb of Aleppo in

March. The British prime minister, David Cameron, said last month that

al-Qaida-linked elements in the rebel movement had tried to capture chemical

weapons for probable use in Syria.


Britain's security and intelligence chiefs "assess that al-Qaida elements

and individual jihadists in Syria currently represent the most worrying

emerging terrorist threat to the UK and the west," says the ISC.


It adds: "There is a risk of extremist elements in Syria taking advantage of

the permissive environment to develop external attack plans, including

against western targets. Large numbers of radicalised individuals have been

attracted to the country, including significant numbers from the UK and



They are likely to acquire "expertise and experience which could

significantly increase the threat posed when they return home," says the ISC

report. Intelligence officials believe about 100 British Muslims have gone

to Syria to join rebel groups.


The ISC reports serious concern about the security of what it calls the

"vast stockpiles" of chemical weapons held by the Assad regime.


They are believed to include sarin, a clear liquid which attacks the nervous

system, ricin, mustard gas and VX - described as "the deadliest nerve agent

ever created".


The MI6 chief, Sir John Sawers, told the committee there was the risk of "a

highly worrying proliferation around the time of the regime fall".


The committee adds: "There has to be a significant risk that some of the

country's chemical weapons stockpile could fall into the hands of those with

links to terrorism, in Syria or elsewhere in the region. If this happens,

the consequences could be catastrophic."


The shape of the terrorist threat is "potentially changing from tightly

organised cells under the control of structured hierarchies to looser

networks of small groups and individuals who operate more independently,"

says the ISC.


It points to a growing threat of attacks by "lone actors", such as the

stabbing of Labour MP Stephen Timms while holding a surgery in his east

London constituency in 2010.


Lone actors are much harder to detect - something al-Qaida appears

determined to exploit. The ISC refers to evidence from an unidentified Home

Office official who told the committee: "There is no doubt that the more

sophisticated people in al-Qaida recognise that groups are, in some ways, a

thing of the past; and that encouraging lone acts of terror is exactly the

way forward."


In a passage studded with asterisks marking redactions from the full report,

it says the foreign secretary, William Hague, told the ISC: "We don't

believe that while we are engaged in this process of sanctions and

negotiations and a twin-track policy it would be right to launch a military

strike on Iran and we've said that very clearly to the Israelis."


It refers, intriguingly, to how British spies have "become more creative in

how they maintain and develop accesses to supply the government's

intelligence requirements" targeting Iran.


The ISC report does not include the evidence it has been given recently by

GCHQ officials on the massive British and US eavesdropping programmes leaked

to the Guardian.



(F)AIR USE NOTICE: All original content and/or articles and graphics in this

message are copyrighted, unless specifically noted otherwise. All rights to

these copyrighted items are reserved. Articles and graphics have been placed

within for educational and discussion purposes only, in compliance with

"Fair Use" criteria established in Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976.

The principle of "Fair Use" was established as law by Section 107 of The

Copyright Act of 1976. "Fair Use" legally eliminates the need to obtain

permission or pay royalties for the use of previously copyrighted materials

if the purposes of display include "criticism, comment, news reporting,

teaching, scholarship, and research." Section 107 establishes four criteria

for determining whether the use of a work in any particular case qualifies

as a "fair use". A work used does not necessarily have to satisfy all four

criteria to qualify as an instance of "fair use". Rather, "fair use" is

determined by the overall extent to which the cited work does or does not

substantially satisfy the criteria in their totality. If you wish to use

copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you

must obtain permission from the copyright owner. For more information go to:










No comments:

Post a Comment