Al-Qaeda threat looms into new decade, warns British PM

LONDON - The failed Detroit plane bombing showed that terrorism remains a "very real" global threat as the world enters a new decade eight years after 9/11, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned Friday.
World leaders needed to cooperate "urgently" to tighten security at airports and on aircraft following the December 25 attack in which a 23-year-old Nigerian nearly downed a US jet as it prepared to land, he said.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
"The new decade is starting as the last began -- with Al-Qaeda creating a climate of fear," he wrote, saying the failed bombing had "exposed an evolving terrorist threat" and highlighted "a major new base for terrorism."
"The failed attack in Detroit on Christmas Day reminds us of a deeper reality: that almost 10 years after September 11th international terrorism is still a very real threat," he added.
The Detroit attack, which has led to a major review of security procedures and the coordination of airline and other watch-lists, had thrown the spotlight onto the threat posed by militants based in Yemen, he said.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is believed to have been trained in Yemen before embarking on the failed bombing, with explosives concealed in his underwear which remained undetected as he passed through Nigerian and Dutch airports.
"Enemies of democracy and freedom -- now trying to mastermind death and destruction from Yemen as well as other better-known homes of international terror such as Pakistan and Afghanistan -- are concealing explosives in ways which are more difficult to detect," said Brown.
"Al Qaeda and their associates continue in their ambition to indoctrinate thousands of young people around the world with a deadly desire to kill and maim," he wrote in an article on his Downing Street office's website.
And he said: "Our response in security, intelligence, policing and military action, is not just an act of choice but an act of necessity."
Brown said Britain has "one of the toughest borders in the world," and had screened 135 million passengers in and out of the country against watchlists -- including the Detroit attempted bomber, who was refused a visa in May 2009.
"But in light of the Detroit incident we all urgently need to work together on how we might further tighten these arrangements," he said.
And he stressed that Britain cannot rely only on a "fortress Britain strategy" -- but must take the fight to where extremists are based, "in Afghanistan, Pakistan and all around the world."
"The Detroit plot thankfully failed. But it has been another wake-up call for the ongoing battles we must wage not just for security against terror but for the hearts and minds of a generation."

Friday, January 1st 2010

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