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Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
Vigilance urged over al-Qaeda threat
Armed police at Heathrow airport
Security is noticeably tighter at airports
Home Secretary David Blunkett has appealed for British people to remain vigilant following the arrests of a number of al-Qaeda suspects in Morocco and the US.

Mr Blunkett said security remains tight in the UK but that there was no cause for concern in the light of the detentions.

Reports from Morocco say at least three Saudi men have been arrested in connection with a plot to launch suicide attacks against British and American warships in the Strait of Gibraltar.

The Foreign Office says it is liaising with the Moroccan authorities over those arrests, which were made in May.

Reuters news agency reported that two Moroccan women - the wives of two of the men - were also arrested on Monday and were being interrogated.

The women allegedly acted as couriers and "were aware of what the men were doing", it quoted an unnamed official as saying.

The names of the detainees were not released.

On Monday American officials announced the discovery of an alleged plot by al-Qaeda to detonate a "dirty bomb" containing radioactive material in the US.

We don't believe the position that has occurred... actually changes the position here

David Blunkett, Home Secretary
Mr Blunkett stressed that British security services are always vigilant with regard to any potential attack in the UK, particularly since 11 September.

The attacks on the World Trade Center sparked an immediate review of security in the UK.

Policing, intelligence at home and abroad and nuclear safety were all re-examined.

Mr Blunkett said on Tuesday there was no additional cause for concern.

"We don't believe the position that has occurred either in terms of what's called the dirty bomb or the Moroccan arrests actually changes the position here. But we are vigilant," he said.

Secondary target

MI6 and MI5 have said there is no great cause for alarm after the events of the last 24 hours.

There has been a noticeable tightening in security since 11 September at UK airports.

This has been backed up with much greater intelligence-gathering and co-operation abroad aimed at foiling any planned attack on the UK.

Former anti-terrorism officer Charles Shoebridge told BBC News: "The most important part of a successful security strategy is correct identification of the threat and then intelligence effort directed towards infiltrating those who are responsible for terrorism.

"And it's in that respect that since 11 September, Britain and the rest of the world is now much better prepared."

As another protective measure, security at nuclear sites has been stepped up and anti-smuggling operations have been improved to deny terrorists access to radioactive material.

The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"MI5 and MI6 are ploughing through the latest reports"

Key stories

European probe


See also:

10 Jun 02 | Africa
05 Dec 01 | Americas
10 Jun 02 | South Asia
10 Jun 02 | Americas
23 Apr 02 | Americas
26 Oct 01 | South Asia
11 Jun 02 | Health
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