The Metropolitan Police and special forces troops from the SAS regiment have been told to prepare their response for up to 10 simultaneous terror attacks on the streets of the British capital.
It is understood that the security services are concerned that Islamist terrorists returning from Syria with military training could attempt to execute multiple attacks across London, similar to those seen in Paris in November 2015. In doing so, the attackers would force authorities to spread resources across the city.
The Sunday Times reports that army regiments from outside London are now readying themselves to be deployed to assist the SAS and Metropolitan Police in the event of a Paris-style multiple target attack. A minister said that preparations are now in place for such an eventuality, explaining:
“We used to plan for three simultaneous attacks but Paris has shown that you need to be ready for more than that. We are ready if someone tries with seven, eight, nine, ten.”
In another part of the coordinated response, the National Crime Agency has been instructed to prioritise a crackdown on illegal firearms to limit their availability for use in a Paris-style terrorist attack by trained jihadists.
It is also reported that the army’s counter-terrorist bomb disposal unit is building a team, at Didcot barracks in Oxfordshire, tasked with combating a chemical or biological ‘dirty bomb’. One recent SAS training exercise involved soldiers tackling improvised explosive devices containing such weapons of mass destruction.
Islamist extremists in British prisons are also facing an increased security clampdown. This relates to concerns that terrorist prisoners plan to use smuggled mobile telephones to film an attack against non-Muslim prison guards, for it later to be posted online.
The upgraded security response came to light following the arrest of 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam — a chief suspect in the deadly Paris attacks — in Brussels on Friday. One investigation source claimed Belgian police deliberately wounded him in the operation as revenge for his attack on their colleagues, saying:
“It was a little present for wounding police officers.”.