Alliance with U.S. puts Britain at risk

Two leading British think tanks warned Monday about danger of the UK’s close alliance with the United States. The experts believe the cooperation of Britain and the U.S. in Iraq puts Britain at particular risk of terrorist attack. The apprehension rose after the suicide bombings in London underground trains and a bus on July 7 killed 55 people and injured some 700 others.

The Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Economic and Social Research Council said the situation in Iraq had given "a boost to the al-Qaida network's propaganda, recruitment and fund-raising" and provided an ideal training ground for al-Qaida-linked terrorists, says the AP.

Report authors Frank Gregory, of the University of Southampton and terrorism expert Professor Paul Wilkinson, of the University of St Andrews, said, according to The Daily Mail: "There is no doubt that the situation over Iraq has imposed particular difficulties for the UK, and for the wider coalition against terrorism."

The report also claims that Islamic terrorists were only given the appropriate priority in the late 1990s.

Before that, it claims, suspect groups in London were not viewed as a threat and allowed to act with "relative impunity."

The authors also suggest common Al-Qaida tactics are difficult to guard against in the UK.

However, British authorities do not agree with the report of the two think tanks.

"The idea that somehow by running away from the school bully, then the bully will not come after you is a thesis that is known to be completely untrue by every kid in the playground and it is also refuted by every piece of historical evidence that we have," Defense Secretary John Reid said in a British Broadcasting Corp. radio interview.

John Reid accepted that the upsurge of attacks in Iraq was likely to continue as the political milestones of adopting a constitution and holding full elections approach, say The Times.

Reid told Radio 4's Today program: "Let me tell me you why we are getting the massacre of innocent Muslim children, civilians in Iraq - a huge number of deaths. It is because the worst blow that can occur to al-Qaida is to illustrate the success of a democratic elected government in Iraq."

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Monday also rejected suggestions that nations which backed the United States in Iraq were more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

"The time for excuses for terrorism is over," Straw was quoted as saying by the AP. "The terrorists have struck across the world, in countries allied with the United States, backing the war in Iraq and in countries which had nothing whatever to do with the war in Iraq."

On the photo: John Reid

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