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Friday, 28 September, 2001, 08:05 GMT 09:05 UK
Minister warns of fresh terror attacks
Police on duty
Security has been stepped up on London's streets
The Minister for Europe, Peter Hain, has warned that the Bin Laden network is planning fresh terror attacks.

Mr Hain did not specify where or what he thought would be targeted by Osama Bin Laden, the chief suspect behind the 11 September strikes on the US.

But speaking on the BBC's Question Time programme, he said he believed attacks were planned for the coming weeks.


You can't negotiate with these people

Jack Straw
Foreign secretary
And Jack Straw, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, agreed that Bin Laden could be planning fresh attacks which may soon affect the UK.

Mr Hain said: "We are in a very dangerous situation.

"I understand that he is preparing already for high-impact terrorist attacks in the coming weeks, if he's able to.

Continuing threat

"We've got to track him down, we've got to stop him doing it again."

Mr Straw said the continuing threat from Bin Laden necessitated action against him.

He denied it was possible to negotiate with the terrorists, comparing their fanaticism to high-ranking Nazi officials.

Minister for Europe Peter Hain
Peter Hain: "Dangerous times"
"You can't negotiate with these people. The best historical parallel - I'm afraid to say - is those at the top of the Nazi regime.

"There has been an increasing escalation. We have to work on the basis that this organisation is still there and we have every reason to think it is around the world.

"There continues to be a risk of them making further attacks. We would be complacent and irresponsible not to warn of the risks."

Al-Qaeda 'cancer'

His comments echo those of military expert Colonel Bob Stewart, a former Nato commander in Bosnia.

He told BBC News Online on Thursday that locating and destroying the al-Qaeda network should be the world's top priority.

"This al-Qaeda organisation has grown like a cancer in a large number of states worldwide. All nodes of it must go," he said.

"Those that supported the terrorist hijackers on 11 September have been largely undetected.

"They remain in place throughout the world. Evidence has come to light that they might be planning follow-up outrages."

Network 'disrupted'

Home Secretary David Blunkett has admitted that 11 of the suspected hijackers in the attacks passed through Britain on their way to America.

World Trade Center explosion
Experts say destroying the al-Qaeda network is a top priority

But UK newspaper reports on Friday carried conflicting accounts of how long they spent in the UK.

According to The Sun, an MI5 source said "most of them were merely transit passengers".

The source said the network in the UK had been "disrupted and is no more" - and that there was no specific attack target in Britain.

But The Times, citing intelligence chiefs, said five of the hijackers left London airports in June to fly to the US after possibly partaking in "a vital planning meeting".

It said "dozens" of terrorists allied to Bin Laden were on the run in Britain.

And it cited one "senior security source" who said the number was thought to "run into double figures".

'Stay vigilant'

The Metropolitan Police has previously warned that further terrorist attacks are possible in the UK, especially London.

The official government line is that people should stay "vigilant".

Armed police at Heathrow airport
Police have warned that London could be a likely target

Its civil contingency planning advice website says: "There is no evidence of any specific threat against the UK but nevertheless it is important that people stay vigilant.

"There is no reason why people shouldn't go about their daily business as normal."

Mr Blunkett said people should not panic, and that being vigilant was not the same as believing there was about to be an imminent attack.


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