Former UK foreign secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, has said that Britain is under threat from Islamist terrorists who have “devilish technical skills.” Sir Malcolm, who now chairs the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee, said he has “no doubt” that extra security measures at airports are necessary, after receiving a secret intelligence briefing.
The former foreign secretary also warned that the British public have become complacent about the threat of a terrorist attack in Britain, and that this lack of vigilance was “seriously disturbing”.
Writing for the Sunday Telegraph, Sir Malcolm said: “We must not underestimate the devilish technical skill of those terrorists who design ever more sophisticated means of concealing explosives in mobile devices, in clothing and in otherwise innocent objects. They have been hard at work over the last year.”
“Apart from the terrible murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, the last successful Islamic jihadi terrorist outrage in Britain was the London bombings back in 2005. This has resulted in complacency amongst some of the public which is seriously disturbing. It is simply foolish to believe that the threat is either minimal or now behind us,” he added.
He also backed up authorities in their decision to impose stricter airport security measures last week: “A week before the public announcement I was briefed as to why new security measures at our airports would be necessary. I have received fuller information than it has been possible to publish in the newspapers. I have no doubt that these new steps are not bureaucratic nor an over-reaction.”
His comments come as security officials announced that passengers may be prohibited from taking electronic devices on planes to the United States. U.S. authorities announced the new measures after receiving intelligence that terrorists may try to smuggle explosive devices within the battery compartment of a phone or laptop.
From now on, passengers must demonstrate that their device is operable before taking it on a plane, and devices with flat batteries will not be allowed on flights.
Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxy devices are reported to be receiving special attention.