Britain said yesterday it had thwarted "at least" four major terror attacks since the July 7 bombings last year, while up to 24 separate threats were under investigation, as police probed the foiled bid to explode aircraft en route to the US.
Police had swooped on key suspects on Thursday over an alleged plot to wreak mass murder by smuggling liquids in hand baggage onto US-bound planes to assemble into bombs.
Questioned about how many terrorist attacks had been stopped since the London bombings in July last year, Home Secretary John Reid told the BBC News 24 television channel on yesterday: "I can tell you that at least four major plots have been thwarted."
Reid said that the plots would have led to significant loss of life and indicated that up to two dozen terror investigations were currently being pursued, confirming reports that police were hunting that number of terror cells in Britain.
"I'm not going to confirm an exact number but I wouldn't deny that that would indicate the number of major conspiracies that we are trying to look at," Reid said.
Regarding Thursday's terror raids, a Metropolitan Police spokewoman said yesterday that enquiries were ongoing and searches continuing while 23 suspects remained in custody.
"We think we have the main suspects in this particular plot," Reid added.
"I have to be honest and say on the basis of what we know, there could be others out there ... so the threat of a terrorist attack in the UK is still very substantial," he said.
Britain on Thursday upped its security alert to "critical."
Meanwhile, the global investigation into last week's alleged plot has turned increasingly to Pakistan and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, amid fears that worse plans could be afoot.
The Times yesterday said one of the suspects under arrest could be "Al-Qaeda's leader" in Britain. However, the newspaper did not name the suspect.
also see stories:
Terrorism experts cast doubt on al-Qaeda tie to arrests
Britons and others cast skeptical eyes on terror plot claims
Foiled UK terror plot casts cloud on airline industry
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