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September 28, 2006

Terror threat 'unparalleled,' says Sir Ian Blair

The threat from terrorism is unprecedented and never seen before in Britain, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair told Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi, in an exclusive interview held at New Scotland Yard.

"We face a threat of a level which we can't find any parallel to. The allegations in relation to the recent arrests are, as my deputy put it in public, of 'a mass murder on an unimaginable scale'," the UK's most senior police officer warned.

But he said he could not comment on the recent remarks made by Home Secretary John Reid that Britain faced an "imminent" threat during last month’s warnings about an alleged plot to blow up flights to the US.

"We cannot discuss as it is sub judice," Blair said. "I can’t discuss the current cases.”

In defending accusations that the UK's 1.8 million Muslim community was being collectively criminalized, he said that it was "very difficult territory."

"The fact is that we are facing a threat like we've never seen before. That threat is at the moment coming from a particular part of British society," Blair said.

With cabinet ministers passing the buck on the Muslim community to help combat terrorism, he argued that the issue "is the responsibility of not only Muslims but also of the rest of society, including the Police and the Government."

Blair also said he was "not trying to diminish here is the fact that there is a sense of grievance, a perturbation in the Muslim community."

He said he was not going to deny the perception that innocent people are being targeted by the police but would "refute" that there was a lack of confidence caused by not only by Britain's foreign policy but because of anti-terror raids.

"We are seeing actually that Muslims themselves appear to feel safer than the indigenous population. And we are seeing very, very few (although each one is too many) Islamophobic attacks," the police chief controversially argued.

He also confirmed that all law enforcement agency would continue partly profiling Muslims in operations as potential terrorist suspects as it would be "ridiculous" not to.

"In terms of profiling, if we said we're now going to ignore that and everybody will be treated equally - we're wasting our time," Blair said.

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