London warned to be on alert for Christmas terror attack

London warned to be on alert for Christmas terror attack as probes into extremist plotting reaches record high.

Londoners are being warned to be on the alert to thwart a potential pre-Christmas terror attack as the country’s top counter-terrorism officer revealed that investigations into extremist plotting have reached a new record high.

Met Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said he feared that the public might become complacent as London faces the risk of being moved into Tier 3 restrictions which are likely to reduce the number of crowded spaces and venues that terrorists might strike.

But he said that the danger still remained because of online radicalisation during the coronavirus lockdowns and the continued threat of Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

He said that meant that there was a severe risk of self-initiated attacks by extremists, including some radicalised within weeks, over the coming weeks.

He added that the attack on Streatham High Road earlier this year, in which two people were injured before the freed terror convict Sudesh Amman was shot dead by police. had shown how terrorists could target less obvious locations.

Mr Basu said tip offs from friends and family who were likely to be best placed to spot changes in behaviour were particularly critical.

He said this included using the ACT Early website – www.actearly.uk – set up to give an extra reporting and advice route to anyone worried about a person they know.

But he urged Londoners to also be on the lookout for anyone who appeared to be conducting reconnaissance or who is showing other signs that might indicate terrorist intent, such as carrying an inappropriately large backpack or scouting security at a prominent location.

We don’t want people to become complacent, Mr Basu told the Standard, pointing out that the recent attacks in France and Austria had occurred on the eve of those countries imposing tighter coronavirus restrictions.

We are at a severe threat level, meaning an attack is highly likely and we are there for a reason. In the last two weeks we reached a historic high in the number of investigations that we are dealing with so it’s well over 800.

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