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Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Terror warnings 'not acted on'
The twin towers, Osama Bin Laden and the MPs' report
Clear signs that terrorists were gearing up for an attack ahead of 11 September "were not acted upon", a committee of MPs has claimed.


It now appears that important indications in Summer 2001 that an attack might be imminent were not acted upon

Donald Anderson, foreign affairs committee

Action must be taken to prevent similar lapses in the future - including making sure UK intelligence services were adequately funded, the MPs said.

Without good intelligence, the UK was "appallingly vulnerable" to attack.

The conclusions are contained in a report by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

'Pre-emptive strikes'

The committee also urges the UK to avoid being drawn into what US President George Bush termed the "axis of evil", which he identified as including Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

In particular, the report says, the West should soften its line on Iran.

Labour MP Donald Anderson
Donald Anderson: 'Tackle causes of extremism'
"Relations with Iran should be based on critical engagement, not on confrontation," committee chairman Donald Anderson said.

The report echoes calls for a deadline to be set for Iraq to allow UN weapons inspectors back in amid continuing concerns about the development of "weapons of mass destruction".

But it was not clear how an "imposed regime change" in Iraq or "pre-emptive military strikes", as has been discussed in Washington, would comply with international law, the report adds.

The government should also spell out its policy on whether Britain was ready to use nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive strike against a state in possession of weapons of mass destruction, the MPs' report said.

'Attack imminent'

The report echoes some of the findings of the Intelligence and Security Committee, which last week said US and Western intelligence failed to appreciate the scale of threat posed by al-Qaeda terrorists.

Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Donald Anderson said: "It now appears that important indications in Summer 2001 that an attack might be imminent were not acted upon.

"It is imperative that the official agencies tasked with gathering and assessing intelligence on possible terrorist threats have the human, financial and other resources they require to protect the United Kingdom and its posts and facilities overseas."

'Publishing war aims'

Mr Anderson praised the government's decision to publish information on its aims in the so-called "war on terrrorism".

And he added: "This approach should be followed before any further action is taken, whether against Iraq or elsewhere.

"At each stage of this war, the government has to get public and Parliamentary opinion on side before it proceeds."

Middle East situation

He said the continuing conflict in the Middle East "severely complicated" the campaign against al-Qaeda.

"The war against terrorism must be accompanied by efforts to deal with the causes of Islamic extremism and of discontent among Islamic peoples.

"Only by tackling those causes will support for al-Qaeda be reduced and the terrorists exposed for what they are-evil men waging a vicious war, which lacks any moral justification," Mr Anderson said.

Al-Qaeda suspects

The report also raised concerns over US treatment of suspected al-Qaeda suspects at Camp X-Ray in Cuba.

"The international coalition needs to be seen to treat prisoners justly," it said.

"Winning hearts and minds in the Islamic world is tremendously important for the long-term success of the war against terrorism, and prisoners taken from Afghanistan have not been universally perceived to have been treated humanely and with justice."

"In relation to the detention of Taleban and al-Qaeda suspects ... the government must strive to uphold standards of international law and, to the greatest extent possible, to ensure that prisoners are tried in full accordance with internationally accepted norms of justice."

See also:

13 Jun 02 | UK Politics
20 Jun 02 | UK Politics
13 Jun 02 | South Asia
10 Jun 02 | South Asia
11 Jun 02 | Americas
11 Jun 02 | Americas
08 Jun 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
Internet links:


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