Britain's Jews voice `concern'

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The Independent Online

Leaders of Britain's Jewish community have met with anti-terrorist squad officers this week following a threat by Hizbollah, the Iranian-backed Muslim guerrilla group, to extend its activities beyond the Middle East.

The meeting at Scotland Yard, part of a regular dialogue, discussed the extra threat caused by current events in Lebanon and northern Israel.

The interception last week by Belgian police of an Iranian freighter carrying explosives which it was claimed were destined for Munich has also heightened fears that the Jewish diaspora faces fresh attacks.

Michael Whine, spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said that over the past few days the BBC monitoring service had recorded short- wave broadcasts from Hizbollah threatening to extend their campaign to Jewish and Israeli targets outside the Middle East. "Clearly this is of concern to us," said Mr Whine. "When groups like Hizbollah or Hamas make threats they invariably carry them out ... They keep their promises."

Mr Whine said the threats from Hizbollah - and also Hamas - were being taken very seriously. The British community is not expected to take any extra measures, however. Security has been high since the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in London in July 1994.

The Community Security Organisation, run by the Jewish community nationally, sends out briefings to Synagogues on anti-semitic attacks and groups, and the Board of Deputies acts on any intelligence reports from Scotland Yard. Many synagogues have installed closed circuit TV cameras, trained volunteers in security and surveillance techniques, and meet regularly with local police.