Updated: December 20, 2009 10:00 IST

Scotland Yard warns of Mumbai-style terror attack on London

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UNDER THREAT: A statue of WW II era British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the Houses of Parliament. Scotland Yard issued a blunt warning of an impending 26/11-type terror attack. Photo: AP
AP UNDER THREAT: A statue of WW II era British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the Houses of Parliament. Scotland Yard issued a blunt warning of an impending 26/11-type terror attack. Photo: AP

Scotland Yard in the UK issued a shockingly blunt warning of a terror strike being plotted along the lines of the 26/11 Mumbai attack. The warning sets the time frame unconfortably close as early next year. Officials report that the information was picked up in "intelligence chatter" - communications captured by electronic eavesdropping agencies.

In the “bluntest” warning issued by British police, Scotland Yard has said that businesses in the city of London could face a Mumbai-style terror attack early next year.

“Mumbai is coming to London,” said a senior detective from SO15, the Metropolitan police’s counter-terrorism command.

The detective said companies should anticipate a shooting and hostage-taking raid “involving a small number of gunmen with handguns and improvised explosive devices”, ‘The Sunday Times’ reported.

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, it said.

Patrick Mercer, Chairman of the Commons counter-terrorism sub-committee, said the threat was “very real“.

Officials now report an increase in “intelligence chatter” - communications captured by electronic eavesdropping agencies.

One senior security adviser said the police warnings had intensified and become much more specific in the past fortnight. “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 unnamed adviser said.

The warning was issued by the Metropolitan police through its network of “security forums”, which provide business leaders, local government and emergency services with counter- terrorism advice, the paper said.

During the Mumbai attacks in November last year, 10 terrorists from Pakistan had killed 166 people over three days in India’s financial hub.

According to the newspaper, concerns had been raised by “chatter” of a prominent ‘jihadist’ website two weeks ago.

One contributor suggested fighters could use automatic weapons to strike places such as nightclubs, sporting venues and Jewish centres.

In an online discussion 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”.

“In general, targeting economic joints and intelligence centres if possible has priority over police stations.”

In Mumbai, many victims were killed in the first half hour of the attack. The Metropolitan police is concerned that it will be much longer before the SAS (Special Air Service), which has traditionally dealt with terrorist sieges in London, would arrive from its base at Regent’s Park barracks.

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