UK on high alert over beheading threats on troops

The UK has been put on high alert over fears of beheading attacks on members of the country's armed forces, police and intelligence services.

PTI| Last Updated: Jan 13, 2015, 18:42 PM IST

London: The UK has been put on high alert over fears of beheading attacks on members of the country's armed forces, police and intelligence services.

Monitoring by counter-terrorism agencies has picked up "chatter" by jihadists about copying Islamic State (IS) by abducting a target, filming their murder and posting the footage on the Internet, The Times reported.

Evidence from recently thwarted plots and intelligence from monitoring suspects has revealed conversations between terrorists in Britain and in Syria about attacking police and soldiers in the UK.

"It's a valid fear, probably the No 1 fear," one counter-terrorism source told the newspaper.

"Our gun laws make it very hard for them to carry out the sort of attacks that happened in Paris. But we know from Woolwich (south-east London) that the stabbing or beheading attack is easy to do and hard to stop," he added in reference to the brutal murder of a British soldier on the streets of London in May 2013 by two Islamist extremists.

Security arrangements for service personnel are under continuous review as the threat develops.

Soldiers travelling through France have been told not to wear their uniforms, extra armed police have been deployed at sites where troops perform ceremonial duties and commanding officers have been given discretion to advise troops against wearing uniform outside barracks and bases.

UK defence secretary Michael Fallon has said that security of military personnel was under regular review and that defence chiefs were looking again at "standing preparations for a terrorist attack, including the number and readiness of troops available to assist the police".

Prime Minister David Cameron has committed to drawing up far-reaching surveillance laws if he is re-elected in May in the wake of terror attacks in Paris last week.