Britain Braces for Copycat Attacks 05/24 07:31
LONDON (AP) -- Britain is bracing for clashes with right-wing extremists and
possible copycat terror attacks after the brutal slaying of a young soldier.
London's Metropolitan Police said more than 1,000 officers will be sent to
potential trouble spots with armed response units. Only a fraction of Britain's
police officers are armed.
Wednesday's bloody attack was captured on video by passersby and made for
gruesome viewing --- one man is seen with his hands stained red and holding two
butcher's knives as he angrily complained about the British government and
troops in foreign lands. A lifeless body is seen on the street behind him.
Terror analysts say the attackers wanted the publicity to inspire copycat
attacks, and that they are already seeing an increase in chatter on extremist
sites calling for such attacks.
"We can see the tempo being raised," said Maajid Nawaz, a former jihadist
who is now with the London-based anti-extremist Quilliam Foundation.
"One of the reasons why these guys acted in this theatrical way was because
of the propaganda effect so others would be inspired to do the same thing. The
nature of these attacks are that they are so easy to do, and we have definitely
seen an increase in chatter calling for such things since the attack."
A British government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he
was not authorized to speak about the ongoing investigation, confirmed the
increase in chatter since Wednesday's attack but said no specific or credible
plots had been detected at this point.
Britain's terror threat level has remained unchanged at "substantial" ---
the middle of five possible rankings.
Right-wing extremists, meanwhile, said they would be holding demonstrations
over the coming weeks. Several dozen gathered the night of the slaying to
Britain's domestic spy agency of MI5 has long warned of the difficulties in
predicting self-starter attacks, or attacks that are inspired --- not
necessarily organized --- by larger groups.
With the weakening of al-Qaida's leadership structure in Afghanistan and
Pakistan, there has been an increase in lone-wolf attacks, which are low-tech
and relatively easy to pull off.
Both suspects in the soldier's killing were on the agency's radar for as
long as six years. Video footage showed one of the men at a 2007 rally with
Anjem Choudary, the former leader of the banned extremist group al-Muhajiroun.
But the men weren't necessarily the focus of any specific investigation,
said the British official who spoke on condition of anonymity. There has to be
compelling intelligence to suggest a real threat before suspects are put under
"It is a democratic right to protest in this country," said the British
official. "Not everyone who shows up at a demonstration, even though they may
say or believe in things that we don't, will turn to violence."