Al Qaedas of Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield
Britain is a major target of al Qaeda operations, according to British counter-terrorism officials.
"That's based partly on what they are seeing, in terms of the types of activity, and partly based on the coincidence, that al-Qaeda's leadership is based in the tribal areas of Pakistan where there are links to the UK and flows of people going back and forwards.The Guardian:
"It makes it easier to make the UK a target than the other countries it might wish to target."
The network also appeared to be better organised, he continued.
"The leadership of al-Qaeda does appear to have been re-grouping and to be more coherent and organised than had been thought in recent years.
"The view is it clearly was an organised group before 9/11, but the campaign in Afghanistan disrupted that leadership very heavily.
Britain has become the main target for a resurgent al-Qaida, which has successfully regrouped and now presents a greater threat than ever before, according to counter-terrorist officials. They have revised their views about the strength of the network abroad, and the methods terrorists are able to use in the UK.
Intelligence chiefs with access to the most comprehensive and up to date information have told the Guardian that al-Qaida has substantially recovered its organisation in Pakistan, despite a four-year military campaign to seek out and kill its leaders. In that time, the organisation has become much more coherent, with a strong core and a regular supply of volunteers.
More worrying, officials say, is evidence of new techniques that would-be terrorists within the UK have adopted. The structure of individual al-Qaida-inspired groups is much more like the old Provisional IRA cells, with self-contained units comprising a lead organiser/planner, a quartermaster in charge of weapons and explosives acquisition and training, and several volunteers.
Officials describe these groups as "multi-tasking" - involved in fraud and fundraising and courier work as well as planning attacks. "There is a hierarchy within each cell with a very tightly run command and control," said one counter-terrorism source.