Terror: Should we really be afraid?
4 October 2010
On 3 October, the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, warned its citizens of the “high threat” of a terror attack in Europe. The Independent wonders if such alerts aren’t creating an unwelcome climate of fear.
Last week's reports that terror attacks are being planned in Europe on the model of the atrocities committed in Mumbai in 2008 have prompted action from the US authorities. The State Department yesterday issued a "travel alert" to all US citizens planning to visit Europe, warning them to be vigilant. And our own Foreign Office followed soon after, suggesting that there is a "high threat" of an attack on the continent.
The intelligence reports which prompted these alerts should be taken seriously. It is clear that European cities are potentially vulnerable to the sort of commando-style suicide raid that took place in India's commercial hub two years ago. The death toll of the Mumbai attacks (which left around 173 dead) was fearful, especially considering the relatively small number of terrorists involved.
But the US alert, though less serious than an official advisory not to travel, is an unhelpful overreaction and a kick in the teeth for the European tourist industry. If intelligence had suggested US citizens were a specific target, the alert might have been justified. But there was nothing in the intelligence reports last week to suggest that. And the fact that no arrests were made after the report was leaked indicates how nebulous and undeveloped these plots must be. Read full article in The Independent...