The public should support UK Armed Forces Day. That is the simple message delivered today by police after reports Islamic State had planned to target a London parade. IS had plotted to detonate a pressure cooker bomb at a parade in Merton, south London, according to the Sun.
But the newspaper claimed an IS leader in Syria unwittingly recruited an undercover investigator from the newspaper to carry out the attack.
Events are planned across the UK today for the annual commemoration of the service of personnel in the armed forces. An increased police is expected. The marches come just 24 hours after terror attacks rocked three countries and caused the deaths of 38 Britons in Tunisia.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told the BBC it was a “huge opportunity to salute the armed forces for the service and the sacrifice they make on behalf of us all and also to pay tribute to families who support them”.
He said the UK’s threat level “is already very high” and UK security arrangements were under “continuous review” following the “appalling murders” in Tunisia.
“The murders in Tunisia and the events in France and Kuwait are a very stark reminder we can never take our security for granted and of the debt we owe, which we salute today, to the armed forces who work around the clock to keep us safe,” he said.
The Sun said the UK plot failed after it informed police and security services.
Police did not confirm the Sun’s report but said it was “helpful” when journalists shared information that could indicate terrorist activity.
The Sun described the alleged plot as a “suicide” attack, saying IS was intending to strike soldiers from the unit of murdered soldier Lee Rigby.
It alleged an IS leader, who it said was originally from Birmingham, told the investigator: “It will be big. We will hit the kuffar (unbelievers) hard InshAllah. Hit their soldiers in their own land.”
The Merton parade was to be targeted because it was closest to the barracks in Woolwich where Fusilier Rigby, 25, was murdered in May 2013, the newspaper said. Fusiliers from his regiment are to be among some 250 marchers, it added.
News of an increased police presence at Armed Forces Day and Pride London, major public events where tens of thousands of people are expected today, came after an emergency meeting of the COBRA security committee yesterday afternoon, chaired by Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond.
Another COBRA meeting chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron will happen this morning.
After the meeting yesterday Helen Ball, Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner, said: “The UK threat level remains as severe. I am announcing additional security measures at events over the weekend, including Armed Forces Day and Pride London. The security of these events comes under constant review.”
There are Armed Forces Day events across the country with the main event in Guildford, Surrey.
Ms Ball urged members of the public to report anything suspicious.
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