October 14, 2008

Lord West, the former head of the Royal Navy, said there was a “huge” threat from extremists as the House of Lords continued debating the Counter Terrorism Bill.

Lord West said: “There is another great plot building up again and we are monitoring this.

He said: “Some of the measures that we have put into place in the past 15 months have made us safer, but that does not mean that we are safe. The threat is huge. It dipped slightly and is now rising again within the context of ‘severe’.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

“There are large complex plots. We unravelled one, which caused damage to al-Qaeda, and the plots faded slightly. However, another great plot is building up again, which we are monitoring.

“We have done a great deal to protect ourselves and to look after our water supplies, our resilience, underground trains, our preparedness and communications.”

He added: “We have done all the things that we need to do, but the threat is building – the complex plots are building.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We have always been clear – as has the director general of the Security Service (MI5) – that there are many plots, individuals and groups under investigation. We don’t elaborate on specific plots or individuals.”

Lord West’s warning came after peers forced the Government to abandon plans to extend maximum pre-charge detention for terror suspects to 42 days.

The current threat level in the UK is assessed officially as “severe” – the second highest rating.

In a speech last year, MI5 director general Jonathan Evans said 2,000 individuals had been identified in the UK who were considered to pose a direct threat to national security because of their support for terrorism.

And he warned that there could be as many again which MI5 did not know about.

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