UK On Severe General Alert

A German pays tribute to Brussels victims
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Prime Minister David Cameron said UK security had been stepped up in the wake of “a very real terror threat” across Europe

A German pays tribute to Brussels victims
A German pays tribute to Brussels victims

BBC says the Security Services are at their second highest state of readiness. The “severe general” alert was adopted following intelligence about plans by al Qaida supporters from North Africa, the BBC said.

The decision was unrelated to US President George Bush’s state visit to Britain this week, the Corporation reported. The alert is meant for the security services and includes the police, Army and MI5, it was said. Internal alerts of this sort are not usually made public.

However, officials put out a statement stressing no there was no information about a specific threat.

“The police and security services are operating at an increased state of vigilance but there is no specific threat and the public should continue to be alert but not alarmed,” the Home Office said in a statement.

“As the Home Secretary has made clear, if there was intelligence of a specific threat then we would inform the public immediately.”

Magnet for terrorism

Eiffel Tower in Belgian national flag colours
Eiffel Tower in Belgian national flag colours

Europe is becoming a magnet for terrorism, said a state-run Chinese daily which added that not since the end of World War II has Europe been “so disturbed and confused”.

An editorial “Brussels attacks expose vulnerable Europe” appeared in the Global Times on Wednesday, a day after a series of explosions hit the airport and a Metro station in Brussels, the Belgium capital city.

This is the second terrorist attack on a major European metropolis after Paris last November, the daily noted.

It added that a few days ago, several suspects in the Paris attacks were captured in Brussels, so it is believed to be a revenge attack.

“Headquartered by the EU and over a hundred international organizations, Brussels serves as a hub of civilizations, and has a large African immigrant community. It was trampled on during two World Wars, and now terrorism becomes a new threat,” said the daily.

“Terrorists launch such attacks quite frequently in war-torn and turbulent regions, but when Brussels has to face it, the city is unable to stop the scourge of craziness.”

“Europe is becoming a magnet for terrorism. Terrorists from outside and extremists from inside are taking concerted actions to instigate instability. The EU has gone a long way in integration, but security is a weak link, leaving a modernized EU vulnerable in face of terror.”

The editorial said that after 9/11, “the US has effectively reinforced its homeland security, pushing all anti-terrorist wars beyond its borders. Washington has stirred troubles in the Middle East, destroyed its regional architecture…”

“From the collapse of the Soviet Union to the rising turmoil in the Middle East, Europe has gone through a lot of pain inflicted by the changes in the global political landscape,” the Global Times said.

“However, after a number of terror attacks, this region does not seem prepared to deal with terrorism. The collective anti-terrorist front is more a show than a real thing. Most countries, startled by the very fact of terrorism, are inclined to take unilateral actions to defend their own interests.”

It went on to say that terror is pushing European civilization to a dangerous end. “Xenophobic ultra-right forces are gaining popularity with Europeans. The tendency will put people with immigrant backgrounds into a more disadvantaged situation, where terrorists will have their way. It becomes increasingly difficult to stop this tendency.”

The EU is still bogged down in troubles caused by the financial crisis in 2008. Feeling discouraged and hobbling forward, the EU might find the recurrence of these terror attacks the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

“Not since the end of World War II has Europe been so disturbed and confused.”

“Geopolitics is given a lot of attention, but terrorism can make an unprecedented sensation on the global stage. A modern and open international community has not figured out a panacea to counter terrorism. Terrorism will probably become an arch enemy of all mankind, who do not have much leeway but should confront it face to face,” it said.