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Gallupene blant britiske muslimer har vist foruroligende tall. Måling etter måling viser at et betydelig antall har enten sympati med eller forståelse for terror. Spørsmålet må bli: Når kommer neste angrep? Nå sier innenriksminister John Reid at Storbritannia står overfor den største sikkerhetstrussel siden annen verdenskrig.

Hvis Heathrow-bomberne hadde lyktes, ville det fått store konsekvenser for forholdet mellom britiske muslimer og resten av befolkningen. Det er en diskusjon man har tatt på alvor i USA, men ikke i samme grad i Europa.

Kilder Independent on Sunday har snakket med sier at Heathrow-bomberne ikke ville nøyd seg med ti passasjerfly. De hadde lagret enorme mengder sprengstoff og våpen, og planla storstilte aksjoner på britisk jord.

If it is true that there was a conspiracy to blow up airliners in waves, three hours apart, the carnage could have rivalled that of September 2001. But in the 100 days since he moved to the Home Office, Mr Reid would have been made aware that the threat went far wider even than that, encompassing the possibility of mass casualty attacks on British soil. The Independent on Sunday was told that «apocalyptic amounts» of explosives, plus some weapons, have been identified as a result of investigations into the current plot as well as previous terror attacks – both those carried out, such as last year’s 7/7 bombings in London, and those that have been thwarted.

For months, intelligence reports have been circulating in Whitehall which warn of Islamist terror cells, based mainly in east London, intent on carrying out a so-called «spectacular». There has been a number of unreported arrests of alleged «Islamists» in the area, which are understood to have exposed links between British-born Muslims and terror training camps in Pakistan, as well as to explosives and firearms use. At least one known radical Islamist, who is already under close scrutiny by the police, is also said to be associated with the «east London network».

Hvor lenge kan myndighetene greie å fange opp og forpurre planene? Det sies at det er 1.200 mennesker som regnes som så farlige at de bør overvåkes kontinuerlig. Det er en enorm oppgave.

A Whitehall source said: «This plot was one of many dozens that we are investigating, and that’s the frightening thing.» Between last July’s bombings and the end of 2005, three other terror plots had been thwarted. «There are hundreds of people involved who we are trying to watch.» The authorities estimate that there are some 1,200 people in this country «actively involved» with terrorism.

Politiet slo til torsdag. Onsdag holdt Reid en tale for en forening kalt Demos, der han snakket i vendinger som i ettertid har fått mer mening.

An audience expecting him to discuss border controls received instead a stark warning on terrorism. «Let us have no doubt that we are probably in the most sustained period of severe threat since the end of the Second World War,» he said. He sometimes felt the courts, as well as critics of the Government’s anti-terror policies in opposition parties and the media, «just don’t get it». He concluded: «We cannot afford any misunderstanding, in any quarter, about the nature and scope of the threat which we are facing.»

Tips innenfra

Midt i all uhyggen er det oppløftende at tipset som førte politiet på sporet, kom fra en britisk muslim som var bekymret for en bekjent. Politiet sjekket og forsto at det var noe stort.

British security received the tip-off that led to the uncovering of last week’s terror plot after the suicide bombings of July 2005. A call was made to MI5’s hotline from a concerned member of the Muslim community, reporting general suspicions about an acquaintance. MI5 began to look into one individual and gradually realised that it had something big on its hands.

From that morsel of information, according to a senior French intelligence official, British authorities opened the investigation into what they said turned out to be a well-organised plot to bomb transatlantic flights.

Apocalyptic: Bigger than 7/7? Worse than 9/11? Piece by piece, the plot unravels