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The Edge of Terror

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London Braces for Mumbai-style Terror Attack

December 21st 2009

Terrorism - Scotland Yard

Scotland Yard has warned commercial organizations in London to brace for a Mumbai-style attack, according to British media reports. Approximately two weeks ago, mincing no words during in a classified briefing in the City of London, detectives from SO15, the Metropolitan police counter-terrorism command, reportedly declared: “Mumbai is coming to London.”

During the November 2008 bloody urban warfare “commando-style” Jihad raid in Mumbai by 10 gunmen, 174 people were killed and more than 300 injured over three days of attacks on hotels and cafes.

One London anti-terror squad detective warned of a shooting and hostage-taking raid “involving a small number of gunmen with handguns and improvised explosive devices.”

The blunt declaration has underlined a belief in the UK that a terrorist cell already in the country may be preparing an attack on London early next year. The declaration and warning was transmitted through a “security forum” set up by police to provide business leaders, government and the emergency services officials and others with counter-terrorism insights.

Among the signals, intelligence agencies now detect a significant increase in “chatter” (communications captured by electronic eavesdropping agencies). These exchanges have become increasingly more specific in recent days, according to reports. “Before, there has been speculation. Now we are getting what appears to be a definite plot to carry out a firearms attack on London,” the SO15 detective reportedly stated.

On one prominent jihadist website two weeks ago, a contributor suggested, “fighters could use automatic weapons to strike places such as nightclubs, sporting venues and Jewish centers.” In an online discussion in early December, another poster reportedly suggested “guerrilla warfare” by “a group of mujahidin” who would “raid police stations and fire at them.”

Another wrote: “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 [it] are not available, this is a good way... The [Mumbai] operation is the ideal scenario for operations you are talking about.”

Another online poster at the website said targets in London should be “chosen in a studied manner.” He specified: “In general, targeting economic joints and intelligence centers if possible has priority over police stations.”

London police are now polishing still untested plans to confront mass shootings in London as well as a prolonged siege complete with suicide terrorist threats to murder hostages as they take their own lives. During the Mumbai attack, scores of victims were killed in the first 30 to 60 minutes. London's SO15 police unit believes it will take longer than that for elite SAS forces to arrive from their barracks.

Underscoring the certainty of the intelligence, Patrick Mercer, chairman of the Commons counter-terrorism sub-committee, said the threat was “very real.”


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