So said British Home Secretary David Blunkett, who also had some choice words for opponents of anti-terror measures. From the Australian, with thanks to Nicolei:
A TERRORIST attack in Britain was inevitable, British Home Secretary David Blunkett said.
Security measures alone were not sufficient to stop the threat, he said. Asked if such an attack was a question of “when, not if”, Blunkett told BBC television: “Yes, it’s the view that’s been expressed by the head of the (home) security service”, Eliza Manningham-Buller.
Blunkett said that a suicide attack was “the most likely” scenario in Britain, which has been a staunch supporter of the US in its so-called war on terror.
Blunkett told the BBC that Prime Minister Tony Blair “and I have confirmed that whatever we do – and we are doing everything we can – we can’t guarantee and nor should we pretend to that we can protect ourselves forever by security alone.
“But we can do a damn good job if we enable the security services to be able to apprehend people before rather than after they have committed the act,” Blunkett said, adding: “In this country the threat is extremely real.”
His comments came the day before he was due to publish a controversial paper setting out possible options for introducing tough new counter-terrorism laws in Britain.
The proposed measures were expected to feature radical proposals such as lowering the standard of proof in terrorist-linked court cases and introducing secret trials heard by security-vetted judges.
The plans have been fiercely criticised by human rights campaigners.
But Blunkett argued that Britain now faced a threat different from that of attacks carried out by Northern Ireland paramilitary groups during decades of violence in the British-ruled province.
“Whatever they (such groups) did, and it was horrendous, they actually always tried to save their own lives.”
But they were not “as terrorism is from Al-Qaeda and the network around it, geared up to suicide bombers who can take our lives at any time in ways that we never perceived before.
“So prevention rather than simply prosecution and punishment have to be the way forward. Because prosecution and punishment to a terrorist who is prepared to take his or her own life as well as everyone else’s is a meaningless concept.”
Blunkett said that the document he was to unveil today “explains more of how al-Qaeda cells organise and operate”.
“Without this information, we cannot have an informed debate about how to balance our security with our rights,” he said in an interview with Britain’s domestic Press Association.
Blunkett called for a debate to produce solutions to the international terrorist threat, a step he admitted risked attracting the derision of his political opponents.
“I am fed up with what little debate we have in this country being dictated by the campaigners and lawyers who only say how rights are being damaged rather than come up with some solutions. In short, I want answers and ideas, not just brickbats.”
Blunkett added: “I live with constant, never-ending worry day and night about the threat we face and whether we are doing everything we can to make this country as safe as possible.”
The Home Secretary was also expected to unveil details of a 50-per-cent expansion of Britain’s home security service, known as MI5, which is to hire 1000 new staff to counter the threat of terrorism.