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Is the UK safer now than on 9/11?

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Is the UK safer now than on 9/11?

Post by shammy on Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:56 am

When those heavy black crash barriers were lowered into place outside the Palace of Westminster in 2003 they raised a lot of eyebrows.

Yes, America had been attacked on 9/11 but over here in Britain would anyone really want to ram a truckload of explosives into the Houses of Parliament?

It seemed almost unthinkable. After all, Britain had provided sanctuary to so many dissidents fleeing oppressive regimes in the Middle East. Why would anyone want to attack such a beacon of democracy and free speech?

But in that same year, 2003, Britain took part in the US-led invasion of Iraq.

For Al-Qaeda, driven out of Afghanistan and running short of recruits, this was like breathing new life into dying embers.

Here was a cause that could ignite anti-western fury and propel countless numbers of international jihadists to go and fight the invader in Iraq.

Strategic mistakes like disbanding the Iraqi army were followed by scandalous revelations of abuse by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison and further, isolated allegations against British troops.

Suicide bombings

Back in Europe, jihadists struck Madrid's commuters as they rode trains into work in 2004.

And yet, when on the morning of 7 July 2005 Mohammed Siddique Khan and his accomplices murdered 52 people on London's buses and tube trains, it still took Britain's intelligence and security community largely by surprise.

They had been expecting an attack sooner or later, but very few had predicted suicide bombings by British citizens on British soil.

'7/7', as the London bombings became known, sparked a major rethink in counter terrorism circles because whatever measures were being taken were clearly not enough.

The police and the security service, MI5, would need to co-operate more closely. Far more needed to be done about addressing the root causes of terrorism.

Those working in counter-terrorism would need to be more agile in their thinking.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne, the Met's senior national counter-terrorism co-ordinator, said: "Over the last 10 years we've become more accustomed to making high risk decisions based on imprecise information on assessed intelligence, often within rapidly declining time frames."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14832156

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