RVH Alert Sparked Security Overhaul
Security in Ulster’s largest hospital trust was overhauled after an al Qaida terror suspect was believed to have breached its email system to contact jihadi terrorists.
The Filipino man, now awaiting trial on serious terrorist charges, was alleged to have accessed the Royal Victoria Hospital’s computer system to contact members of the extremist Islamic group behind the Bali bombs.
The Belfast trust revealed the reason behind its overhaul of computer security as the NHS is on high alert amid fears that the thousands of legitimate workers it employs from overseas each year may be used as cover for jihadists seeking entry to the United Kingdom.
The man’s wife was employed at the RVH as a nurse and is alleged to have enabled her husband to access staff email accounts. A spokesman for the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust last week revealed that the terror alert at the hospital had resulted in a review of computer security at the RVH. And identical security restrictions were put in place at hospitals throughout the Trust.
A spokesman for the Belfast Trust said: “Following an incident of inappropriate use of email at the Royal Hospital, a number of safeguards were put in place including the introduction of individual user names and passwords to ensure that all email communications could be traced to individual users rather than a general or group access account.”
Security is set to be stepped up even further following the terror attacks in Glasgow and London involving healthcare staff, including Queen’s University-educated Kafeel Ahmed.
Said one senior health service source: “Talking to staff, the attacks last week have to make them much more vigilant. Those in a position to control IT and computer systems, for example, will be keeping an extra close monitor on what material is being accessed and by whom.”
The man at the centre of the RVH security scare is due to have his case raised in court again next month. An earlier court hearing heard how he was alleged to have used the email name ‘Moroblade’ and used computers in the Royal Victoria Hospital in 2003 to send emails to people linked to Jemaah Islamiya, the Philippines-based al Qaida cell.
He denies any involvement in terror offences, and being the person responsible for the correspondence in the name of ‘Moroblade’. He is due to stand trial accused of possessing of information and items which may be of use to terrorists.
They included instructions on how to make a “tennis ball bomb” and how to administer poison.