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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Europe faces 'real' and 'persistent' terror threat, says UK

EUObserver: British home secretary John Reid has warned that the whole of Europe faces a "real" and "persistent" threat from terrorism and urged all EU countries to step up their security.

His warning came after an extraordinary meeting in London with colleagues from France, Germany, Finland, Portugal and Slovenia following the suspected terror plot on transatlantic planes last week.

"It is a threat we face here in Britain as individuals and as communities, but it's not unique to the UK.

"It affects us all across the European Union", Mr Reid said according to Associated Press.

"What's clear to all of us is that we face a persistent and very real threat across Europe", he said.

Mr Reid also urged other member states to step up their security - with just some countries last week following the UK's lead and banning passengers from carrying drinks or gels on board.

Co-ordination across EU countries
"It's very important that the measures that are taken in one country are reflected in other countries because we want equal security for all our countries", said the home secretary.

Echoing the sentiment, his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy said "More than ever the key word in the efforts of counter terrorism is co-ordination between our countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world".

The meeting of current (Finland) and future EU presidencies as well as EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini discussed four areas to be tackled - liquid explosives, transport security, intelligence exchange and European Islam.

For his part, Mr Frattini said he would present concrete measures on how to detect liquid explosives in the coming days, reports Reuters.

According to the British authorities, those involved in the foiled plot to blow up planes on route to the US from the UK last week were planning to use liquid explosives smuggled on board using drinking bottles.

The detection of such explosives is extremely difficult with scanning machines used at airports built more for detection of guns, knives and other weapons.

Mr Frattini called liquid explosives an area of "particular vulnerability."

Unconstrained evil
Mr Reid gave a definition on the terrorism he believes the world is facing.

"The European Union and indeed the wider world is confronted by a form of terrorism that is unconstrained in its evil intention," he said.

"Given the means of destruction on a massive scale which is available through modern technology and biological, chemical and other means, [it] is virtually unconstrained in its capacity and its ability to do immense harm, death and destruction."

The British authorities are currently holding 24 people they suspect of being involved in the plot.
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