United Kingdom: Al-Qaeda is resurgent and is seeking to carry out new terrorist atrocities involving airliners and airports, the British security minister Ben Wallace warned on Saturday.
The terrorist group behind the 9/11 attacks in 2001 poses a growing threat that is keeping ministers “awake at night”, he told The Sunday Times.
Wallace said that intelligence had revealed that al-Qaeda was developing technology to bring down passenger jets. Whitehall officials say that could include miniaturised bombs. Islamists have also plotted to use drones packed with explosives to blow up key targets.
“The aviation threat is real,” Wallace told British newspaper The Sunday Times. “Al-Qaeda are resurgent. They have reorganized. They are pushing more and more plots towards Europe and have become familiar with new methods and still aspire to aviation attacks.”
He added that the Islamic State terrorist group’s “decline” could lead to an al-Qaeda attempt to reassert its dominance, using a massive aviation terror attack to announce its comeback.
“They [al-Qaeda] have explored other ways of getting bombs on planes. We’ve talked publicly about an insider threat issue. If you can’t get in the front door, you’re going to try to get in the back door,” the minister said.
He pointed to a failed attack against an Australian airliner in July 2017 as evidence that aviation targets are still a favourite with terrorists.
“In 2019, we should be alert to al-Qaeda. They are re-energising some previous links and support and their ambition towards aviation is real. We saw in Australia that terrorists do what works and they don’t give up.”
And he added: “Al-Qaeda sat quietly in the corner and tried to work out what the 21st century looked like, while Isis became the latest terrorist boy band, but they have not gone away.”
“They have reorganised. You’re seeing al-Qaeda appear in areas we thought were dormant.”
The Islamic State in Syria and Iraq has used drones to deliver explosive devices, and security sources told the newspaper that drawings of UAVs designed to deliver bombs were discovered during the course of a recent UK terror investigation.
The revelation comes days after London’s Gatwick Airport was shuttered for more than 36 hours after an unmanned aerial vehicle caused chaos in the skies above the airfield.