Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday 10 August 2006

UK Threat Level - 'CRITICAL'

Effective 2am last night the UK threat level has been raised to CRITICAL and a short while ago a statement was read by Home Secretary Dr John Reid. The text, from the Home Office website, reads:

Home Secretary issues terror statement
10 August 2006

The Home Secretary has made an official statement about this morning's major counter terrorist operation to quash a significant terrorist plot and the subsequent increase to UK threat levels.

'Overnight the police, with the full knowledge of Ministers, have carried out a major counter-terrorism operation to disrupt what we believe to be a major threat to the UK and international partners.
The police, acting with the Security Service MI5, are investigating an alleged plot to bring down a number of aircraft through mid-flight explosions, causing a considerable loss of life.
The police believe the alleged plot was a very significant one indeed.
At 2am this morning the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre raised the UK threat state to its highest level – “CRITICAL”.
This is now being publicly announced as I promised to Parliament last month.
This is a precautionary measure. We are doing everything possible to disrupt any further terrorist activity.
This will mean major disruption at all UK airports from today.
But as far as is possible we want people to go about their business as normal.
The police will provide an update on the operation later this morning and Ministers will keep the public regularly informed.'

Similar information is on the MI5 website (but at the time of writing the server there seems to be almost overloaded, so the page may load slowly or not at all).

The background is a suspected major terrorist threat to blow up several aircraft in mid-flight, probably over the North Atlantic. The BBC Radio4 Today rolling news programme has been carrying updates during the programme about the procedures being imposed at airports throughout the UK - basically, it is complete chaos with almost all cabin baggage being prohibited and reports of flights being severely delayed or cancelled. Passengers are being recommended to cancel their journeys if at all possible. The rumour is that liquid explosives may be involved as, for example, mothers are being asked to taste baby-milk before being allowed to take it on board for their babies.

Thank goodness I do not have a flight planned in the near future. It is obviously going to be a complete bind for at least the next several days. It is infuriating how our lives can be disrupted by terrorists - they must not be allowed to succeed in their aims, either to cause terrorist mayhem or simply to discrupt our lives like this.

UPDATE (Thursday 10AUG06 11.05 BST) - As usual Spy Blog has a more critical appraisal of what these latest security measures may imply. Many of the views expressed there reflect exactly my own private feelings which I chose not to include in my post as originally written. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance - with ALL that this implies.

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