Report: Police expect Mumbai-style terror attack in London
Sunday Times quotes security sources as saying concerns raised by 'chatter' on prominent jihadist website two weeks ago, in which one contributor suggested fighters could use automatic weapons to strike places such as nightclubs, sporting venues and Jewish centers. Chairman of the Commons counter-terrorism sub-committee: Threat very real
Scotland Yard has warned businesses in London to expect a Mumbai-style attack on the capital, the Sunday Times reported.
According to the report, in a briefing in the City of London 12 days ago, a senior detective from SO15, the Metropolitan police counter-terrorism command, said, “Mumbai is coming to London.”
The detective was quoted by the Sunday Times as saying that companies should anticipate a shooting and hostage-taking raid “involving a small number of gunmen with handguns and improvised explosive devices”.
The warning — the "bluntest issued by police" — has underlined an assessment that a terrorist cell may be preparing an attack on London early next year, the report said.
The Sunday Times said the warning was issued by the Met through its network of “security forums”, which provide business leaders, local government and the emergency services with counter-terrorism advice.
During the Mumbai attack in November 2008, 174 people were killed and more than 300 injured over three days.
According to the Sunday Times, British officials have reported an increase in “intelligence chatter” — communications captured by electronic eavesdropping agencies.
“Before, there has been speculation. Now we are getting what appears to be a definite plot to carry out a firearms attack on London,” a security advisor was quoted by the Sunday Times as saying.
According to the report, earlier this year, police, military and intelligence services held an exercise in Kent to "see whether they could defeat a commando raid in London by terrorists."
'Struggling to draw up effective plans'
A military source told the Sunday Times that "the exercise brought out to those taking part that the capability doesn’t exist to deal with that situation should it arise."
Security sources said concerns had been raised by “chatter” on a prominent jihadist website two weeks ago, the report said, adding that one contributor suggested fighters could use automatic weapons to strike places such as nightclubs, sporting venues and Jewish centers.
In an online discussion hosted on December 2, another contributor invited suggestions for carrying out “guerrilla warfare” and proposed “a group of mujaheddin raid police stations and fire at them”.
Another said: “Make sure that all those at the location are of age, that there are no children and so on. Insist on the locations and times where no Muslims or children are to be expected.
“If machine guns are available, and explosive and expertise for (explosives) are not available, this is a good way ... The (Mumbai) operation is the ideal scenario for operations you are talking about.”
A third contributor said targets should be “chosen in a studied manner”.
He added: “In general, targeting economic joints and intelligence centers if possible has priority over police stations.”
According to the Sunday Times, the Met "is understood to be struggling to draw up effective plans to deal with the challenge of mass shootings followed by a prolonged siege with terrorists prepared to kill their hostages and themselves."
The report said that in Mumbai, many victims were killed in the first half hour of the attack. "The Met is concerned that it will be much longer before the SAS, which has traditionally dealt with terrorist sieges in London, would arrive from its base at Regent’s Park barracks," the Sunday Times said in its report.
Patrick Mercer, chairman of the Commons counter-terrorism sub-committee, was quoted by the British newspaper as saying the threat was “very real”.