A WEEK BEFORE THE second anniversary of the 7/7 terror attacks, a combination of good luck, the courage of a policeman risking his life to defuse a car bomb, quick thinking by airport passengers at Glasgow, airport worker heroics and the terrorists' own incompetence, stopped them from causing a bigger carnage.
The plot, involving two Iraq-style car bombs in London and a failed suicidal car bomb attack on Glasgow airport, has alarmed security services and politicians on several levels.
Operationally there was a failure to detect a wider plot stretching from London to Australia via Pakistan and the Middle East, and some astonishment at the simplicity and low cost of the conspiracy, which involved packing a car with DIY heating cylinders and boxes of nails to be activated by a mobile phone.
If Home Office figures that 1,500 terror suspects are at large in the UK are correct, then around 40,000 officers are needed to monitor them; but the entire manpower of MI5 is just above 3,000.
British security agencies face a formidable enemy. Unlike the IRA, Al Qaeda has no hierarchical structure, but is more like a club whose members can only be compared to credit card holders. Contact is indirect and not always with the 'mother' cell, but with any centre (ATM machine).
Like the 'queen' in a colony of ants issuing signals picked up by all ants to carry out suicidal tasks for 'the good 'of the colony, and for this reason individual acts can rarely be traced to the 'queen'.
Hence, investigations are often complex and internationally interlinked, according to Peter Clarke, head of the Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism unit, who said in April that his officers were contending with "networks within networks, connections within connections and links between individuals that cross local, national, and international boundaries".
I have compared Al Qaeda's web of terror and its existence to the film 'Matrix' where the battle between good and evil was fought in a world of virtual reality in cyber space.
The arrest in Bosnia, October 2005, of cyber-Jihadi Swedish national of Bosnian extraction Misard Bektasevic, who used the name 'Maximus', led London police, via data on his computer, to Younis Tsouli, from a middle class Moroccan family, who turned out to be 'Irhabi007'.
Irhabi007, a word play on the Arabic for terrorist and James bond agent '007', never fired a single bullet in the great jihad against 'the crusaders', but intelligence sources say he was far...