Warning that suicide attack is more likely in London than New York

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The Independent Online

London is at greater risk of attack from Islamist terrorists than Washington or New York, one of the world's leading security firms warned yesterday.

"London has become the pre-eminent terrorist target in Western Europe" and there is a serious possibility of a suicide attack on the city following Prime Minister Tony Blair's support for the Iraq invasion, a report by the analysts Control Risks says.

They cite a number of reasons why London is the city most risk: the tightening of security in the United States after the 11 September attacks; the wide spread of potential targets across America - which serves to reduce risk to individual cities there; and the lack of a centralised Muslim community. A combination of these factors makes an attack on a single US city less likely than an attack on London, Control Risks says. Britain has a large Muslim population and London is the only place of political significance in the country. British Muslims staged a suicide bombing in Israel earlier this year, and the country's alliance with the US has raised the risk rating for London from low to medium, the company warned.

Jake Stratton, research director of the 2004 RiskMap report said: " London has become a pre-eminent terrorist target in Western Europe. It is a very attractive target for Islamist extremists. Suicide bombings, either by individuals, or a vehicle packed with explosives would be relatively easy for terrorists to carry out, while delivering a psychological blow to the general public, Mr Stratton said. "It is very simple to set up and very difficult to guard against. It is vital to do everything possible to combat the threat. The Muslim extremist threat had previously been a vague and undefined war against the West. But in the last year Britain has reinforced its position in the eyes of the Islamic world as the major ally of the US."

The company analyses business risks for a number of the US Fortune top 100 firms, as well as those in the FTSE 100.