Terrorist threat hangs over Olympic Games? Two news reports

I: “UK police arresting ‘marginal’ terror suspects to ‘clear decks’ ahead of Olympics” — ANI report

London, July 9 (ANI): British police is arresting ‘marginal’ terror suspects in a bid to ‘clear the decks’ ahead of the Olympics, the terrorism watchdog has said. According to The Telegraph, David Anderson, the independent reviewer of terror legislation, said the Games are a ‘major target’ for terrorists, and police is intervening in cases than they would normally do. Anderson said: “The Olympics are potentially a major target and you are seeing the police, perhaps in a marginal case what they might do is decide to intervene a little bit earlier.”

Anderson’s comments follow a series of arrests by counter-terrorism officers in recent weeks, the report said. West Midlands Police had arrested seven men after guns and a rudimentary improvised device were found hidden in a car. The vehicle had been stopped by chance by police for having no insurance, but the discovery was not made until it had been impounded. It raised the suspicion that a group was planning a plot to carry out attacks.

It has also emerged that a suspected Al Qaeda terrorist passed through the Olympic Park on five separate occasions, despite being banned from doing so. The 24-year-old, who can only be referred to as CF, was arrested for breaching the terms of his an order under the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act, referred to as a ‘Tpim’.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the multiple breaches “raise very serious questions about the Home Secretary’s judgment in downgrading counter terror powers in Olympic year against expert advice”. (ANI)

II: Item in ABC, wires Australia

British police say seven men have been arrested on suspicion of terrorist offences, just weeks before London hosts the Olympic Games. The arrests follow the discovery of firearms hidden in a car which was stopped by police in South Yorkshire, England on June 30. The car was pulled over last week and impounded because it did not have any insurance.

The weapons were later found during a routine search, and police tracked down the driver, passenger and other suspects. “As soon as the items were discovered in the impounded vehicle, our priority was to protect the public by pursuing and arresting those we believed to be involved,” Detective Chief Superintendent Kenny Bell said.

The men have been arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. A special warrant has been granted to allow detectives extra time to question the men.  Police say there is nothing to suggest any link to the Olympics, which start in three weeks’ time.

There are no further details about what the men are suspected of planning or the weapons found. The news comes a day after police in London arrest six people over a suspected terror plot. The five men and a woman were arrested across the city as part of an investigation into Islamic extremists who are thought to be targeting the UK.

It is not known what, if any targets, were identified. A police source says the two operations are not linked.

British security forces are on high alert for any signs of trouble ahead of the Olympics. The national threat level is assessed at “substantial” – meaning an attack is a strong possibility. But that is one notch lower than it has been for most of the years following the July 2005 suicide bomb attacks in London which killed 52 people.

Security chiefs have repeatedly said they have no intelligence that the Olympics are being targeted. However as the Games approach, commentators have suggested heightened vigilance could lead to an increase in the number of arrests.

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