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Ports Neglecting Terror Threat, Warns Expert

Scottish ports and harbours are failing to face up to the threat of a terrorist attack, an international terrorism expert warned yesterday. Professor Paul Wilkinson, of St Andrews University, told a conference in Aberdeen that the UK’s role in the so-called war against terror had made it “much more probable we will face some form of chemical or biological attack sooner or later from the al Qaida network”. He said the maritime industry had been particularly slow to take steps to protect itself. “When you consider how poor security is in some aspects of the maritime industry and the number of ports and harbours where we haven’t taken elementary measures, the maritime dimension is one we need to look at seriously,” he said. But Aberdeen Harbour Board general manager Barclay Braithwaite insisted the threat was being taken seriously by the industry. “It has become an extreme issue since the September 11 attacks,” he said. “All UK ports will have to be assessed for risk and make new plans as part of a new security culture. There are going to be changes, and everyone is going to be subjected to them one way or the other.” Prof Wilkinson said al Qaida was known to have attacked maritime targets, including oil tankers. Reminding delegates that an attack on a US warship in Aden had resulted in the deaths of 19 sailors, he said al Qaida had been thwarted in an attempt to attack shipping in the Straits of Gibraltar. Full Story

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