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Resurgent al-Qa'ida ready for new attacks

US fears about strength of terror group in Britain

Con Coughlin in London

Published 16/01/2010 | 05:00

Al-Qa'ida has restructured its global network and has the capability to carry out a wide range of terrorist attacks against Western targets, a detailed US intelligence assessment claims.

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The analysis was conducted in the wake of the failed Christmas Day bomb plot over Detroit.

Support

The growing strength of al-Qa'ida's support in Britain is a concern for US agencies after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian student who studied at London's University College, nearly succeeded in detonating a bomb concealed in his underpants as Northwest Airlines flight 253 made its approach to Detroit airport.

US intelligence officials are still investigating claims that Abdulmutallab was radicalised while he was a student, although UK security officials insist that he was radicalised in Yemen after he left London.

The failure of UK security officials to alert their US counterparts to Abdulmutallab's radical activities while he was president of UCL's Islamic Society has led to increased tensions between the two countries.

UK home secretary Alan Johnson confirmed that the country had passed no information to the US about Abdulmutallab prior to the terror attempt.

Abdulmutallab regularly presided over debates that denounced Britain's involvement in the war on terror and America's Guantanamo Bay facility.

American officials now believe Britain poses a threat to Western security because of the large number of al-Qa'ida supporters that are active in the country.

Two years ago Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, estimated that there were 2,000 al-Qa'ida sympathisers based in Britain, the largest concentration of al-Qa'ida activists in any Western country.

Trained

American officials believe the figure is growing all the time. They point out that recent al-Qai'da terrorist attacks have been planned by British-based Muslims, many of whom had been trained in camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

With al-Qa'ida's leadership under pressure from Nato and Pakistani security forces, there are reports that scores of UK activists are travelling to Yemen and Somalia to attend al-Qa'ida training camps in preparation for terrorist attacks. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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