Ian Watkins on The Changing Face of Terrorism

Using the unassuming title of “spontaneous events from our emergency service,” Ian Watkins mesmerised his audience at the prestigious St Nicholas Golf Club with tails of his lifetime serving his country in various roles including Policing in the Provinces, Serious Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism.

The face of individual terrorists has changed, now they don’t mind dying, said Ian. He further added, the unjustified criticism of the Security Services when a terrorist perpetrator has slipped under the radar, was clarified using statistics stating over 3000 people wish us harm and it requires 36 people around the clock to watch one person.

When a major terrorist incident occurs, operational cooperation swings into action at the Major Incident Control in a secret London location, with the Security Service and police, triggering a command structure which consists of Strategy, Tactical and On the Ground.

One infamous outrage, the Lockerbie Bombing, was analysed in detail by Ian. After the presence of Semtex was confirmed, tiny fragments from a Samsonite brief case, a music radio circuit board and distinctive clothing traceable to a shop in Malta called Mary’s House, all lead to a warrant for the arrest of Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi. But only after long negotiations, did Libya agree in 1999 to surrender him and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah for prosecution by a panel of Scottish judges sitting in the Netherlands. The latter was eventually found not guilty.

Alex and Ian

On another field assignment, Ian was party to tracing, following and arresting Patrick Joseph Magee and accomplices who was responsible for the Brighton bombing in October 1984 which killed five and injured thirty one people. Magee’s route after the atrocity was Holland, Eire, Stranraer and onto Glasgow. All the time under covert surveillance by the Security Services. In a wonderfully coordinated search in a Glasgow tenement block, four IRA terrorists were surprised, including Magee and arrested. More than 200 lbs of Semtex was discovered, destined to wreak death and destruction in other hotels on England’s south coast. Triumphantly Ian explained the terrorists had no idea they had been tracked and followed to their den.

For such an exhilarating and inspiring talk, Alex Thomson delivered a worthy vote of thanks.