‘War on Terror’ to last as long as Cold War
The ”War on Terror” is likely to last as long as the Cold War, a senior Government security official has warned.
(TELEGRAPH) Charles Farr, the head of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, said that while the names of terror groups threatening the UK were likely to change, the threat itself would continue for decades.
Within ten years al-Qaeda could have been replaced by a different group with a similar ideology, he said.
His comments came in private evidence sessions with the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, extracts of which have been published.
David Winnick, the Labour MP, asked Mr Farr if he thought the threat from international terrorism would last as long as the Soviet threat, which ran from the end of the Second World War to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
He replied: ”It is possible, and perhaps probable, that international terrorism will indeed be with us for that sort of length of time.
”However I qualify that by saying that the particular organisations who are creating the threat will undoubtedly change during that period.
”It is perfectly possible that in ten years we will be looking at something which has replaced al-Qaeda and may even have a different name and certainly have different people in it, but I fear may pose a threat of the same degree.
”The threat may be with us for that length of time.”
He said al-Qaeda would be likely to survive the death of Osama bin Laden and that of his deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri.
”It would be a different organisation but it would still survive because the ideology is still there and…bin Laden himself might then have the status of a martyr as well.”
Last month the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre increased its assessment of the threat from substantial to severe. That means officials regard an attack as highly likely.
The Daily Telegraph disclosed last month that the US government believes Britain has the greatest number of Islamic extremists linked to al-Qaeda of any Western country.
It followed the failed Christmas airliner attack over Detroit. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be suicide bomber, was reportedly radicalised in London, where he was a student between 2005 and 2008. Abdulmutallab was president of the Islamic Society at University College London between 2006 and 2007, which studying for an engineering degree. In January 2007, the Nigerian student organised a ‘War on Terror Week’ at the university.
Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, says British military involvement in Afghanistan is helping prevent al-Qaeda from organising an attack on Britain. However last month Ahmet Davutoglu, the foreign minister of Turkey, told The Telegraph that he did not believe the global threat of al-Qaeda would end even if a peace deal between the Afghanistan government and parts of the Taliban was drawn up.