UK: Redraw Terror Map
Posted on: 2008-05-26 00:33:41
West Country plots prompt calls for redrawing terror map
Counter terrorism investigators say a map of terrorism "hot spots" must be redrawn following the discovery of plots in the West Country.
The attempted attack on a shopping centre restaurant in Devon last week and the raid on an alleged "bomb factory" in Bristol have forced investigators to admit that their net needs to be spread more widely.
One source said: "Our map was pretty near empty over the West Country. Now we're tempted to put a big warning sign over the whole area."
Police and MI5 believe the plots demonstrate that no area can be considered free from terrorism.
Police chiefs are to look again at the way terrorism is investigated to make sure that all forces have a dedicated counter-terrorism capability.
Counter-terrorism units have been set up in Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham to extend capacity outside London. That network is now likely to be widened.
The "hot spots" are currently in the West Midlands, where 80 groups are being monitored, Leeds, Bradford and Manchester, where there are 60 groups, London, where there are 35 networks, and Merseyside, where there are 20. In all, more than 200 groups are being watched by MI5 with a further 10 in Wales, 12 in Scotland and two in Northern Ireland.
The West Country has so far been considered a low risk area but MI5 recognised the growing threat recently by setting up bureau in the South West. One of their suspects, although very low on the list, was Nicky Reilly (image), 22, from Plymouth, a convert to Islam who allegedly attempted to blow himself up in a restaurant at the Princesshay shopping centre in Exeter last week.