UK terror attack ‘imminent’

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens has warned of an “imminent” threat of a major terrorist attack on the British mainland.

Following the sharp increase in the frequency of terrorist acts across the globe, notably in Israel, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Jakarta, the terror risk in the UK had upsurged by a “quantum leap,” said the country’s most senior police officer.

Although there was no concrete intelligence available of an impending attack, he said signs of a suicide threat were present and police consequently had to remain vigilant.

In an interview with Reuters, Sir John said: “We are at the highest level of alert, I think, that we have ever been.

“That quantum leap is all about people prepared to give their lives in relation to their causes,” he said.

“The Prime Minister says an attack is inevitable and I think that is probably right. When it happens, we have to have everything in place.”

The police, albeit overworked, were cracking down terrorist activity in the UK, Sir John said, adding, more than 300 people had been arrested since the September 11 attacks in 2001.

He also noted that deadly ricin poison had been found in a London flat and supporters of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network had been imprisoned in the UK for raising funds for terrorism.

He claimed the UK was still a recruiting ground for al-Qaeda and the risk of biological or chemical attack remained high.

He also made the case for the introduction of personal identity cards for all citizens

“We are sure they would have a massively beneficial effect for us in fighting organised crime, human trafficking and terrorism,” Sir John said.

ID cards were an absolutely “essential part of armoury” in the fight against terrorism and organised crime.

“The excuse people say is that terrorists and organised criminals get round it. They might do. But in getting round it, it will identify who they are.”