Blair Eyes Identity Cards After UK Arrests


Britain was already planning to bolster its tough anti-terror laws, passed in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, but Blair told his monthly news conference further measures were needed now.

“I think the whole issue of identity cards, which a few years ago were not on anyone’s agenda, is very much on the political agenda here, probably more quickly even than we anticipated,” he said.

His comments came days after anti-terror police carried out the biggest operation since the September 11 attacks, arresting eight Britons in and around London and seizing half a ton of ammonium nitrate fertilizer — prime bomb-making material.

The government has already announced plans for ID cards, but intended to introduce them “incrementally,” starting with a voluntary scheme aimed at stopping welfare benefit cheats.

The issue has been controversial, with critics arguing cards would breach citizens’ human rights.

Britain’s most senior policeman Sir John Stevens, who has warned an attack on London was inevitable, has argued ID cards are “a must” in the fight against terror.

The eight, who police sources say are Muslims of Pakistani origin, were arrested on suspicion of preparing to carry out acts of terrorism.

The Muslim Council of Britain has asked the country’s two million Muslims to help police in the fight against terror.