LONDON – Britain’s Jewish community has been told to institute extra security measures in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris.
The Community Security Trust, which deals with all forms of anti-Semitism in the Jewish community, said that while there was no known link between those responsible for the Paris attacks to individuals in the UK, there would be increased policing in Jewish neighborhoods for Shabbat.“CST will also increase its own security at synagogues, and has issued advisory notices to all Jewish community venues and their security officers,” its spokesman said.
The CST said it was in close and continued contact with police and government, and joined the Board of Deputies in expressing its deepest sympathies to all those affected by the tragic events in France.
“These attacks are a dreadful reminder of the deadly threat that terrorism poses today.
Jews are repeatedly included amongst the targets of jihadist terrorism and this is why CST has been on its second highest level of alert for a number of years now.”
The highest level of alert is reserved for when an actual attack against British Jews has occurred or is known to be imminent, the spokesman said.
The head of Britain’s internal security agency MI5, Andrew Parker, on Thursday said al-Qaida was plotting to massacre huge numbers of civilians in Britain and other Western countries.
“We know that terrorists based in Syria harbor... ambitions towards the UK – trying to direct attacks against our country and exhorting extremists here to act independently,” he said. “We still face more complex and ambitious plots that follow the now sadly well-established approach of al-Qaida and its imitators: attempts to cause large scale loss of life, often by attacking transport systems or iconic targets.”
According to Sky News, al-Qaida experts are known to have moved from Pakistan to Syria, where they could draw on British volunteers to conduct attacks in the UK. Their mission is focused entirely on plots against the West and are known to be led by Muhsin al-Fadhli, an expert bomb maker wanted by the FBI who has a $7 million price on his head. He moved to Syria two years ago and was unsuccessfully targeted in a coalition air strike last year.
The UK’s internal security coordination committee, COBRA, met on Thursday and ordered a boost to national security.
“Following the attacks, we took the precautionary step yesterday of increasing security at the French-UK border,” said Home Secretary Theresa May.
The UK threat level, which is set by the independent Joint Terrorism Advisory Center, remains at severe, which means a terrorist attack is highly likely and the public should remain vigilant.
Extra police have been deployed at British ports and stations serving the Eurostar rail service between London and Europe.
Police around the UK have made a number of arrests of what are believed to be would be terrorists, but Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, admitted the ongoing threat was “a huge worry.”
“There is a particular increased threat to police officers at the moment and there have been a number of attacks foiled in differed parts of the country, but I can tell you that our officers are very concerned about it... they see what happened in France, and clearly we are an unarmed police force but it is the nature of that threat which is worrying, but despite that our officers go out there and do their duty,” Fahy said.