More than one in three companies (36%) expect terrorists to deliberately target their organisation or staff, according to research released by RAND Europe and Janusian Security Risk Management, the se

The statistics mark an increase of 50% over 2003, when 24% of businesses expected to experience some form of terrorist attack.

According to the study, which was conducted among security and risk managers at the UK's largest corporations, sixty-six per cent of respondents believe terrorism is now a 'significant threat' to their organisations, with four out of five (83%) believing that this threat will increase over the next 24 months, These figures are an increase over the previous year, when they stood at 63% and 74% respectively.

The survey reveals the level of concern the business community has about Al Qaeda and instability in the Middle East, with a staggering 93% of respondents believing that the war with Iraq has increased the threat of global terrorism. Eighty eight per cent of organisations believe that Al Qaeda presents a higher threat than more traditional forms of terrorism, with 76% being more concerned about Al Qaeda than traditional domestic terrorism in particular.

Respondents felt that the Middle East represented the region of greatest terrorism threat to their businesses (71%), followed by Western Europe at 52%. Surprisingly a region that has traditionally held high terrorism concerns for businesses, Latin America, comes bottom of the list, with a figure of only 18% threat-perception.

When it comes to ranking typical threats to business, terrorism was consistently rated by respondents as the most serious crime. Compared to threats from fraud, external crime, computer hacking and industrial espionage, terrorism was consistently rated as the most serious threat - a reversal of last year's findings when cyber-threats were higher than terrorism.