UK report warns nuclear attack realistic

Unclassified document details officials' assessment of the probable future direction of int'l terrorism.

london terrorism car bomb 248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
london terrorism car bomb 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Although al-Qaida is probably not going to survive the coming years, a nuclear or chemical attack on British soil is becoming increasingly likely, according to a new report by the British government. The report, cited by the British Independent newspaper on Tuesday, warned that a "dirty bomb" attack was now "more realistic" than before. "Contemporary terrorist organizations aspire to use chemical, biological, radiological and even nuclear weapons," the report said. "Changing technology and the theft and smuggling of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) materials make this aspiration more realistic than it may have been in the recent past." According to the Independent, the "Contest Two" report is the first unclassified document that includes a detailed picture of British officials' assessments of the future course of terrorism and its underlying causes. The report describes how terrorists in conflict zones develop new explosives and attack methods and quickly disseminate the information worldwide. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith highlighted the underlying causes of the danger of an unconventional weapons attack. "Failed states, conflict, technology - both in terms of the ability to use materials and the ability to learn about how materials are used - contribute to our concern about that as a threat, including what we know about what terrorists may have previously planned to do and may be planning to do," she said. According to the report, the threat to the UK is basically fourfold and consists of al-Qaida's leadership, other groups affiliated with al-Qaida, networks or individuals motivated by a similar extremist ideology, and separate groups that follow an al-Qaida-like agenda. The document said that international pressure would likely cause Osama bin-Laden's organization to "fragment," but noted that the ideology driving it would survive the structural changes to the group, resulting in a possibly greater threat from break-off factions. The report also warned that "terrorist organizations will have access to new technology and may become capable of conducting more lethal operations."