SAS troops, counter-terrorism police and army personnel are joining forces to stage the biggest security operation on British streets since the 2012 Olympic Games. Their deployment comes amidst statements from Al Qaida warning Britain: you’re next.
According to the Sunday Express, a team of 30 SAS elite soldiers has been divided into smaller groups and allocated to the Police Counter Intelligence Unit. They will form part of a “liaison plan”, assisting police by ensuring they have good contacts.
A further SAS squadron is on standby in case of an incident in Britain, whilst helicopters attached to 7 Squadron RAF were yesterday prepared to be on standby to be used by the forces. In addition, 120 commandos of the Special Boat Service are providing “maritime counter measures” to the Home Office, patrolling Britain’s seas to prevent the hijacking of tankers or major vessels.
And last night senior army officers confirmed that 1,900 regular soldiers would be placed on standby as soon as they were selected from high-readiness regiments by Army HQ in Andover, Hampshire. A senior Army source said: “We are on firm footing – and at the state of readiness we were at the height of the security operation during the Olympic Games.”
Intelligence efforts have also been stepped up. A human intelligence unit, comprised mainly of Asian and Muslim operatives are working alongside police and British intelligence units to provide support in identifying threats. The “humint” unit was used extensively in Afghanistan. Members of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment have also been extensively employed in intercepting mobile phone communications over the last 24 hours.
The terror alert level remains at ‘severe’, meaning attack is highly likely. Head of MI5 Andrew Parker has said that security forces have already foiled three UK terrorist threats in recent months, but he warned: “we cannot hope to stop everything”.
Parker has highlighted the transport network as the most likely scene of attack, as they were during the 7/7 bombings which killed 54 people on London’s busses and underground trains. Iconic landmarks are also potential targets.
Following the slaughter in Paris, in which three gunmen left 17 dead this week, security has been increased at the UK/French border, and British Transport Police have increased patrols at London St Pancras, the British terminal for the Eurostar train service. Greater Manchester Police have also decided to scrap plans to cut 25 firearm officer posts.
The frenzy of activity comes amid warnings from al Qaida sources that Britain and the US are the primary targets for attack. A source from within al Qaida in the Arab Peninsula has handed an English language statement to website The Intercept praising the Paris attacks.
“The Charlie magazine team deserved what they got. Many warnings have been given before, but they were persistent. They had the freedom to use cartoons in their magazine, and we have the freedom to use bullets from our magazines,” the statement reads.
In a chilling suggestion that further attacks will come from ‘lone wolves’, terrorists working under their own initiative, which leaves very little trace for intelligence services to pick up on, the statement continues: “Do not look for links or affiliation with Jihadi fronts. It is enough they are Muslims. They are Mujahideen. This is the Jihad of the Ummah [the Muslim diaspora]. So France, are you ready for more attacks; …
“why is France so thick in learning from its past mistakes? Is it leaving Paris undefended once again? …
“You come third in the target list, after US and Britain. If I were the latter, I would rather pull my sleeves up.”