The Wimbledon Tennis Championships, which starts tomorrow, is now a key target for Muslim extremists, according to the Sunday Express. The threat comes as the Prime Minister describes the presence of around 500 British nationals in the extremists ISIS group as the “greatest threat to national security in decades”.
The United Kingdom now has a significant number of highly trained and extremist terror veterans who have served in real conflicts in both Syria and Iraq. There is a fear that some of them may get back into Britain without the security services finding out. Their experience would make it possible to target high profile events like Wimbledon.
Terrorists are thought to want to target Wimbledon as it attracts huge crowds including celebrities, politicians and members of the Royal family. The Centre Court even features a Royal box, especially reserved for members of the Queen’s family. It is one of the iconic events that would create international publicity for any terror group that successfully targeted it.
Police and security services have thrown up a ‘ring of steel’ around the event, in an effort to protect it from extremists. The latest threat to attack Wimbledon appears in the latest edition of Al Qaeda’s Inspire internet magazine, which is aimed at young Muslims. It explains how to make a car bomb that is “very effective in killing individuals” using materials that “do not raise suspicion”.
It also highlights “a tennis tournament” as a potential target, along with other high-profile sporting occasions.
Britain is no stranger to terrorist threats and has security services that are experienced in dealing with permanent risks. The country lived through sustained attacks by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) as part of the Northern Irish troubles that led to 50,000 people being killed or injured.
However the IRA had genuine aims that could be partly accommodated in a later peace process. Islamic extremists just see it as their duty to kill and injure as many innocent people as possible, this makes them much more dangerous. They are also better trained than the IRA, creating a potentially lethal combination.
The government has announced it is using travel bans and intelligence to undermine the activities of Muslim extremists, but most security chiefs privately admit that it is impossible to stop every attack.