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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Britain now top target for Al-Qaeda

LONDON (AFP) - Britain is the top target of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network, which now presents a bigger threat than ever before, a newspaper reported.

Citing unnamed anti-terrorism chiefs, The Guardian newspaper said that Al-Qaeda had regrouped and recovered its organisation in Pakistan, despite a more-than-four-year campaign by a US-led coalition to wipe out the network.

In that time, the newspaper reported, the terror organisation has become a more coherent network with a regular supply of volunteers.

Islamic extremists "viewed 7/7 (the July 7, 2005 suicide attacks on London's transport network) as just the beginning," an unnamed senior source said.

"Al-Qaeda sees the UK as a massive opportunity to cause loss of life and embarrassment to the authorities," the source continued.

Meanwhile, another unnamed source told the daily: "Britain is sitting at the receiving end of an Al-Qaeda campaign."

Britain is seen as an easier threat for Al-Qaeda than many other countries because of its historic links with Pakistan, with tens of thousands of travellers between the two countries each year, the newspaper reported.

The structure of the terror network has also changed, anti-terror chiefs claim, to a more hierarchical system with greater organisation and inter-linkage, from a threat that was mainly comprised of small groups which shared the same philosophy but were largely self-taught and lacked structure.

"There is a hierarchy within each cell with a very tightly run command and control," an unnamed counter-terrorism source said.

"It's all about building up these recruits to consider themselves as Muslim 'patriots' and encouraging them to make the leap and ask themselves 'This is how the west treats Muslims, what are we going to do about it?'", another unnamed source told The Guardian.

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