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Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 16:55 GMT
Blair backs MI5 terrorism warning
Tony Blair
Tony Blair said the terror threat had been building for some time
Tony Blair has said he supports MI5's assessment that Britain is facing the threat of multiple terror plots.

He said the dangers were "very real" and he spoke of "poisonous propaganda" warping the minds of young people.

MI5's boss has said she knows of 30 terror plots threatening the UK and revealed that her staff had 1,600 individuals under surveillance.

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller said attacks could be chemical or nuclear and al-Qaeda was linked to many plots.

The prime minister said the threat had "grown up over a generation" and Dame Eliza warned that it was "serious" and "growing".

Hard choices

MI5 has increased in size by nearly 50% since 9/11 and now stands at roughly 2,800 staff.

But according to Dame Eliza the current terror threat will "last a generation" and her concern is that even with MI5's rapid growth, the security service will not be able to investigate nearly enough of activities it deems to be suspicious.

She said hard choices would have to be made about resources.

"I wish life were like Spooks [the TV series] where everything is, a, knowable, and, b, solvable by six people," she explained.

Tomorrow's threat may - I suggest will - include the use of chemicals, bacteriological agents, radioactive materials and even nuclear technology
Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller

Dame Eliza's warning comes days after a UK man was sentenced to at least 40 years in jail for planning a series of attacks.

Attacks planned by Dhiren Barot, 34, from London, included using a so-called "dirty bomb" using radioactive material.

Mr Blair said he agreed with Dame Eliza's comments that the terrorist threat would last for a generation.

"I've been saying, as you know, for several years that this terrorist threat is very real, it's been building up over a long period of time.

"It's not just in this country, as we've seen recently from incidents in India, France, other parts of the world. This is a threat that has grown up over a generation."

Attacks thwarted

In response to Dame Eliza's warning, Massoud Shadjareh, of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said he accepted there was a terrorist threat but it had to be put into perspective.

"Over 1,000 arrests have been made under anti-terrorism since 9/11 and out of those, 27 have been found guilty. Out of those 27, only nine have been Muslims," he said.

Dame Eliza, who rarely speaks in public, gave a speech to a small audience on Thursday, detailing what she believes her organisation and the UK is facing.

She said that, since the 7 July bombings, five further major conspiracies in the UK had been thwarted.

"Today, my officers and the police are working to contend with some 200 groupings or networks, totalling over 1,600 identified individuals - and there will be many we don't know - who are actively engaged in plotting, or facilitating, terrorist acts here and overseas," she said.

"Today we see the use of home-made improvised explosive devices.

"Tomorrow's threat may - I suggest will - include the use of chemicals, bacteriological agents, radioactive materials and even nuclear technology."




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