Anti-Terror Fight Leaving UK Open to Espionage

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 30, 2004 | Go to article overview

Anti-Terror Fight Leaving UK Open to Espionage


The country's ability to withstand a chemical or biological attack came under question as MPs warned the fight against terrorism had left Britain more exposed to foreign spies, it emerged last night.

The Commons Intelligence and Security Committee said resources were diverted from combating spying to tackle terrorism but questioned whether massive increases in the counter-terrorism budget would improve the UK's defences.

The committee's annual report, published yesterday, warns that if terrorists became 'better able to use' chemical or biological weapons 'the threat to the UK, its citizens and its interests would escalate and our ability to cope with such attacks would be in question'.

However defence experts have told The Western Mail that politicians need to worry less about weapons of mass destruction and more about 'weapons of mass impact'.

Gwyn Winfield, publisher of NBC International, a leading magazine on weapons technology, said it was unlikely terrorists would devise better methods for deploying chemicals when such a breakthrough had eluded Nato or the former Soviet Union for decades.

However Mr Winfield warned beheadings of hostages in Iraq proved a high body count was not necessary to cause panic and spread terror in the west.

He said, 'Politicians need to get away from the idea of weapons of mass destruction and focus on weapons of mass impact.

'If you are able to get a small amount of anthrax or smallpox, put that in contact with a person, create panic and claim responsibility then your standing as a terrorist organisation just skyrockets.

'There needs to be a level of robustness, of getting the population prepared to deal with [weapons of mass impact]'.

The expert's comments came as some MPs on the committee warned modern terrorism could see Britain's main infrastructure, such as its water supplies, disrupted by computer terrorism. …

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