8 Nov 2004

No real evidence that all these groups are connected

Singapore Windows

Agence France Presse
November 7, 2004

SINGAPORE, which sees itself as a target for terrorists, will install more closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in crowded areas to forestall any attacks, the Sunday Times reported.

There is no specific threat but Singapore, which the government has repeatedly warned is on the terrorists' hit list, cannot afford to take any chances, Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng was quoted as saying.

"We know we're a target," Wong told local media on Saturday. "When will it happen, should it happen, we don't know.

"But we cannot take chances. We cannot afford to be complacent and wait for it to happen before we start to look at all the measures," he said.

Last year, the government installed 30 surveillance cameras at a cost of S$2 (US$1.2 million) in three spots popular with residents and tourists.

Wong said the CCTV cameras were the "eyes and ears on the ground" and demonstrated Singapore's resolve to protect itself from terrorists.

"We're making Singapore a difficult target, a hard target, so that people are aware that we're always watchful, always vigilant," Wong said.

The plans to install more cameras in public areas are part of measures that Singapore has taken most recently to beef up security.

On Friday, the government said security guards would patrol every school and up to 12 CCTV cameras would be installed on the premises within the next few months to prevent a tragedy similar to the Beslan hostage crisis in Russia.

Last week, Singapore police began deploying more armed officers to patrol commercial, entertainment and residential areas.

The government has repeatedly warned that Singapore was a target of attacks because of its support to the US-led war against terror and it has rounded up alleged members of Jemaah Islamiyah, said to be the Southeast Asian affiliate of the Al-Qaeda network.
Security has been stepped up at foreign embassies, government buildings, international schools and transport and industrial facilities since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Bill Durodie, director of the international centre for security analysis at King's College London, says: "The reality [of the al-Qaida threat to the west] has been essentially a one-off. There has been one incident in the developed world since 9/11 [the Madrid bombings]. There's no real evidence that all these groups are connected." Crispin Black, a senior government intelligence analyst until 2002, is more cautious but admits the terrorist threat presented by politicians and the media is "out of date and too one-dimensional. We think there is a bit of a gulf between the terrorists' ambition and their ability to pull it off."

The Guardian

No comments: