UK Terror Attack Thwarted

Reports: UK terror attack thwarted (CNN – AP)

British security services thwarted planned September 11-style terror attacks on Heathrow Airport and skyscrapers in London’s Canary Wharf financial district, according to two media reports. But the stories, which cited unidentified sources, did not say when or where the plots were uncovered, or how close they came to being carried out. The plans to crash planes into the two targets were among four or five attacks planned by terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, ITV News said Monday night and the Daily Mail newspaper reported in its Tuesday editions. ITV News also said that British authorities had disrupted training programs for suicide pilots.

Officials at Britain’s Home Office and Metropolitan Police in London refused to comment. A spokesman at Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Downing Street office said: “We never comment on security matters.”

A year and a half ago, British troops in armored vehicles surrounded Heathrow Airport. Blair’s government said that the action came in response to specific intelligence. Pakistan had given British officials intelligence suggesting that al Qaeda had plotted to attack Heathrow airport. The information was found on the computers of two accused members of Osama bin Laden’s terror network arrested in Pakistan. The computers held images of Heathrow. On November 8, the head of the British intelligence service MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller, said that counterterrorism efforts have helped to prevent attacks in Britain since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, but she offered no details.

Excellent. Granted, stopping one planned attack doesn’t mean that they’ll be able to stop the next one. The longer al Qaeda can be kept at bay, though, the more opportunity we’ll have to destroy them.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jim Henley says:

    I’d rather fight them in Iraq than – uh, never mind.