Officials in London say Britain's
domestic security agency, MI5, plans to increase its staff by up to 50 percent,
to focus on the threat posed by terrorists.
The British security agency is expected to recruit at least 1,000 new workers,
increasing its staff to levels not seen since the World War II.
New MI5 employees, including linguists and security experts, are to be assigned
primarily to surveillance and counter-intelligence duties. British officials
say they need greater intelligence resources to detect anyone linked to al-Qaida
or other terrorist groups among the thousands of people who cross Britain's
borders each day.
Government officials say British Home Secretary David Blunkett will announce
the boost in domestic security in Parliament on Wednesday, during a debate
on whether to extend a controversial law that allows detention of foreign terrorist
suspects without trial. The British Labor government's political opposition,
led by the Conservative Party, welcomed news of the intelligence agency's expansion,
but said such a move was long overdue.
Prime Minister Tony Blair has faced sharp criticism at home in recent months
for his decision to send British troops to Iraq and for his support of the
war against terrorism. Mr. Blair is quoted as saying on Sunday that he intends
to fight for a third term in office, despite opinion polls that show his popularity
has declined sharply.
In a newspaper interview with the News of the World, a Sunday tabloid,
Mr. Blair said the question of whether he is to remain prime minister is for
the British people to decide in the next election. He called his job "immensely
enjoyable and fulfilling."
Britain's next election must be held by mid-2006, but Mr. Blair could call
for an early ballot before that date.
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