London raises security levels in response to al-Qaeda terror fears




By Mark Huband, Security Correspondent

Financial Times, 24 May 2003

Signs that parts of the al-Qaeda terrorist network have survived worldwide efforts to destroy it lie behind the decision to raise security levels in London, officials said yesterday.

In response to the threat, police and security chiefs ordered that a ring of concrete blocks be set-up around the Houses of Parliament as protection against bomb-laden vehicles being rammed into the building.

Extra police were yesterday at Heathrow airport, while an additional 150 officers were on patrol in central London. The heightened security has not been launched in response to a specific threat against a known target in the capital. However, counter-terrorism officials analysing signs of activity by al-Qaeda and its affiliates have decided that it has managed to adapt and remain effective.

“We have gone through some periods where we have believed that their capability and organisational direction was degraded. But there are clear signs that they have been able to rebuild. They are now back in business,” said a Whitehall insider.

Al-Qaeda’s probable role in the bombings that killed 34 in Saudi Arabia on May 12 has given security officials insight into how effective it remains. Ayman al-Zawahri, the al-Qaeda deputy chief, issued a statement this week exhorting the group’s supporters to “carry arms against your enemies . . Attack the [diplomatic] missions of the US, UK”.


© Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2008.