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EDITIONS
Friday, 8 November, 2002, 11:08 GMT
Terror warning: Revised statement
The text in full of David Blunkett's revised statement on terrorism released by the Home Office on Thursday.

Since the September 11th attacks we have had some success in damaging al-Qaeda's capability, and in thwarting attacks.

But the terrorist threat remains real, and serious. As recent events have shown, no country is immune from attack, and it simply is not possible to guarantee against more attacks in the future.


If al-Qaeda could mount an attack upon key economic targets, or upon our transport infrastructure, they would. If they could inflict damage upon the health of our population, they would

The visit of the US Director of Homeland Security, with whom I am discussing these issues today, is a useful opportunity to take stock of the situation.

We will continue to give our Agencies the support and the resources they need to do their job.

But I ask the public to understand that no matter how good our intelligence operations may be, there is no such thing as 100% fool-proof security and British citizens remain at risk from international terrorism and that related to the affairs of Northern Ireland.

Whatever damage we have done to al-Qaeda, they continue to operate.

They are dedicated fanatical extremists who have no regard for the loss of human life, including their own. Whatever damage they are able to inflict, they will do so.

Vigilant

We cannot be sure where or when they will strike. But we can be certain they will try.

So the kind of risk that the UK is used to because of our experience with terrorism related to Northern Ireland - car bombs and parcel bomb in public places, assassinations for example - must be taken seriously, and the public must remain vigilant.

But as we have seen with the World Trade Centre and Pentagon attacks, the theatre siege of Moscow, the attack on a French ship off Yemen, the scale of the attacks in Bali, today's breed of terrorist is looking for ever more dramatic and devastating effect.

If al-Qaeda could mount an attack upon key economic targets, or upon our transport infrastructure, they would. If they could inflict damage upon the health of our population, they would.

So we have a duty to ensure we give priority to security. For government, it means continuing and developing the broad and vigorous programme of protective security work that we are already pursuing.

For business, it means ensuring that the security plans that were carefully drawn up after September 11th have not been forgotten, are still relevant and continue to be implemented.

Stress

The key for most people, however, is just remembering to be alert and vigilant particularly in the run-up to Christmas.

This means keeping an eye out for suspect packages, or people acting suspiciously at stations and airports, for instance, and reporting anything suspicious to the correct authorities.

In this respect, I must stress as I indicated to Parliament last week that aviation security measures remains at an enhanced level following the attacks on September 11th and the Government keeps these measures under constant review.

From time to time additional protective steps are being taken, and will continue to be taken as the situation demands. But none of that replaces the need for public vigilance at all times, in all public places.

At the moment, there is a considerable amount of intelligence from various parts of the world to indicate that al-Qaeda and the cells associated with them are engaged on a continuing, evolving pattern of terrorist activity.

Desire

Where threats are specific, we seek to thwart them. Where they are general, we seek to analyse them, and take whatever response we believe to be necessary to ensure the protection of the public.

However, we are mindful of the desire and need of people in a vibrant democracy like ours to live normal lives without a sense of constant fear.

We also know that in part because the terrorists want us to live in fear, and want to damage our economy, and the well-being of our people, that they are capable of feeding false information to us in the hope that we over-react, and damage our economic and other interests.

Getting the balance right is not easy. But that is the task we face. It is a task government cannot face alone. We face it with our allies and partners, with whom we continue to co-operate closely.

And we must face it with the people of this country, so that we have some shared understanding of the nature of these new, more complex terrorist threats, and a shared commitment to facing up to them: through vigilance, through support for the security authorities, and through an understanding of the difficult decisions that have to be faced by government.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Frank Gardner
"It does seem to be a complete blunder"
Terrorism expert David Capitanchik
"The government are concerned to avoid panic"
See also:

01 Nov 02 | England
30 Oct 02 | Politics
09 Sep 02 | Americas
03 Jul 02 | Politics
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