Saturday, September 02, 2006

British anti-terror police probing 'thousands' of suspects

Fri Sep 1, 11:09 PM ET

LONDON (AFP) - British police are currently trying to monitor 'thousands' of potential security suspects, the head of the anti-terrorism unit at London's Metropolitan Police said in an interview to be broadcast Sunday.

In an interview recorded in July, before the arrest of more than two dozen people on suspicion of an alleged plot to blow up US-bound aircraft, Peter Clarke said Britain was facing an increasing threat from homegrown extremists.

He refused to give an exact figure about how many people he said were either directly or indirectly involved in plotting atrocities on British soil but said the number ran into four figures.

'I don't want to go down the numbers game, I don't think it's helpful,' he told a BBC television programme entitled 'Al-Qaida -- Time to Talk?'

'All I can say is that our knowledge is increasing and certainly in terms of broad description, the numbers of people who we have to be interested in are into the thousands.'

He added: 'That includes a whole range of people, not just terrorists, not just attackers, but people who might be tempted to support or encourage or to assist.'

Clarke highlighted the potential for home-grown terrorism in Britain since the September 2001 attacks on the United States, implicitly citing the July 2005 London bombings carried out by four British Muslim suicide bombers.

'What we've learnt since 9/11 is that the threat is not something that's simply coming from overseas into the United Kingdom. What we've learnt, and what we've seen all too graphically and all too murderously, is that we have a threat which is being generated here within the United Kingdom.'

BBC investigators uncovered a route for suicide bombers from Britain to
Iraq by following a French Algerian jihadist who lived in the northern English city of Manchester and is thought to have died in a suicid"

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