By Douglas MacAndrew
With over £1 billion allocated to be spent on security during the summer London 2012 Olympics, and a final security bill likely to hit £2 billion, the security nightmares for the organisers of the London Olympics are now the "big concern" before the summer.
This week the Metropolitan Police and the security services will stage a simulated terrorist attack on an underground station set during the summer to measure the response of the emergency services and their effectiveness. Security measures during the Olympics will see five security personnel for each athlete and according to the MOD army reservists will be called up to make an "overall defence contribution is on a similar scale to that deployed by other nations at recent Olympic Games and will contribute to ensuring a safe, secure and enjoyable 2012 Olympics."
Central London will according to Whitehall sources, "resemble a fortress" immediately before and after the Olympics Games with special focus given to preventing a "lone wolf" terrorist attack by home grown jihadist. Already Waltham Forest Council, which is hosting a section of the Olympic Park, and a visitor campsite during the Olympics, is believed to be one of the areas that is facing “a high-level of extremist threat". The Metropolitan Police and the Home Office, have provided the borough a restricted counter-terrorism local profile (CTLP) during the Games, with 5.5million visitors expected.
The CTLP reported: “a high-level threat of Al Qaida-inspired extremism from males aged between 20 and 38. The individuals of interest to the police are predominantly British-born second and third-generation migrants from south-east Asia. There is also interest from a number of Middle Eastern political movements and AQ-affiliated groups from north Africa”.
Also last week the French and British security services agreed to release a statement which confirmed both countries were working on a joint security exercise, set for March. It did not specify where it would take place.
"We will conduct a joint exercise to test our response to a terrorist incident affecting both our interests,"
The authorities said they will try to ensure that efforts to promote the safe movement of Olympics participants and visitors are closely coordinated.
French media reports say teams from India, Morocco, Senegal, Hungary and Uzbekistan are among those training in Dunkirk, northern France, ahead of the games because it's cheaper than training in England.
With the news that Iranian agents tried to bomb Israeli targets in Bangkok and Georgia the current terrorist threat level in the UK is SUBSTANTIAL, meaning an attack is a strong possibility. According to Mi5 “Islamist extremists continue to view the UK as a legitimate and high priority target for attack both at home and abroad. Al Qaida presents the single greatest threat to the UK.”
However another big concern which is now filtering through to the Olympic organisers and the Metropolitan Police is if you fortify central London, by having a high concentration of police on patrol you will leave the suburbs without police, exposing Londoners to the potential of summer riots which many believed were made worse by under resourced police. In other words central London and Olympic venues will have a "ring of steel" security approach, but out in Barnet and Enfield finding a copper during the Olympics will be an Olympian task in itself.
Moreover the nightmare that is approaching the city in the form of the London 2012 Olympics is something that is going to affect all of us, and our lives. Many of us will not be able to travel to work, do our work or even attend the "Games.