An attack on London during the 2012 Olympic Games poses a major
security threat to Britain, the government said Monday in its
latest assessment of risks from terrorism.
Ministers also acknowledged growing concerns over an attack
using chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons, and
warned that al-Qaida affiliates in east Africa and Saudi Arabia are
Publishing an annual report on Britain’s counterterrorism
strategy, Britain’s Home Office acknowledged that the 2012 summer
Olympics pose an acute security challenge.
“The government is working on the assumption that the greatest
threat to the games is international terrorism and that the threat
in 2012 will be high,” the document stated.
Officials fear terrorists could attempt raids similar to those
in Mumbai, India, in 2008, arriving on small high-speed boats and
using gangs of gunmen to attack targets in central London.
Britain announced Monday the opening of a dedicated maritime
security center – focused in part on piracy in eastern Africa, but
also aimed at bolstering the country’s defenses against an attack
from the water ahead of 2012. Security officials have expressed
worries that an attack against London could be launched from the
“Things like the attack on Mumbai and the forthcoming Olympics
in 2012 made us realize we needed to look at the maritime domain
more closely,” Britain’s terrorism minister, Alan West, said.
In a written statement to lawmakers, Home Secretary Alan Johnson
said al-Qaida’s core leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan had
been stymied over the last 12 months by military action in southern
Afghanistan and strikes against key individuals. Since January
2008, seven senior al-Qaida leaders have been killed, he said.
But Johnson warned that groups in Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia
and Algeria are increasingly capable of mounting attacks overseas.
He cited as proof the attempted Christmas Day bombing of an
airliner at it approached Detroit.
“An increase in the capability of some al-Qaida affiliates and
associated groups, highlighted by the attempted Detroit airline
attack, demonstrates the evolving and diffuse threat we continue to
face,” Johnson said.
Authorities say Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the man charged with
trying to blow up the plane, had links to known radicals in
In the report, Britain’s government said the threat of
terrorists gaining access to chemical, biological, radiological or
nuclear weapons had increased because of a surge in the trafficking
of radiological material, and the sometimes inadequate security
around decommissioned military material.
It disclosed that the U.K. routinely screens people and vehicles
passing through British border crossings for signs of
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