A timely analysis on the terrorist threat and the security challenges it currently poses to the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.
With the commencement of the opening ceremony this past Friday evening at the Olympic Stadium in London, the 2012 Olympic Games are now officially underway.
Excitement and jubilation are the order of the day as the biggest party in the world is held on the streets of London.
London 2012 banner at The Monument.
At least 62,000 are expected to attend all Olympic events, including Michelle Obama, the first lady and wife of U.S. president Barrack Obama.
An estimated one billion will tune in to watch broadcasts worldwide
There will also be dark figures with wholly untoward intentions viewing the games from the shadows.
The party crashers.
Terrorists are just as excited as anyone else about the Olympic Games but for all the wrong reasons.
The Olympics are the ultimate target and appeal to virtually every terrorist organization in the world.
In an interview with Metro this past June, terrorism expert and Newcastle University Professor Stephen Graham was quoted as having said:
The Olympics are like a bubble that has to be completely secure, because it’s the world’s ultimate advertising tool.
British officials will have to defend the Games against a nasty and dizzying array of potential adversaries which could include virtually any terrorist organization in the world.
Organizations comprised of very dark people filled to the brim with anger and hate.
The list of potential threats is long and varied and reads like a Who’s Who of a encyclopedia on terrorism.
Some terror groups have a nationalist or political cause (Real Irish Republican Army) while others are religious in nature and have aspirations of global conquest (al-Qaida). Others still may have an extreme right-wing agenda.
Besides the more high profile terror groups that are well known to the world like those of al-Qaida, Hamas and Hezbollah, there are many lesser known groups. These groups are not very well known outside their respective nations or region of conflict.
One such group, the National Liberation Front of Corsica (FLNC), is a nationalist/separatist group that has been waging a campaign of terrorism against France since the 70’s. FLNC’s seeks independence for the island of Corsica from France.
The group poses a threat exclusively to the athletes of France’s Olympic team.
Though not all of the terrorist groups listed here share the same beliefs and goals (some of which clash with others), they all believe in using the same methods to achieve their ends: fear and force.
While British authorities will have much to concern themselves with as they continue on with their full-court effort to secure the Games and London, analysts have recently revealed that the top three terror threats to the London 2012 Games comes from al-Qaida, the Real Irish Republican Army, and lone wolf terrorists.
What’s more is that the Olympics actually overlap with Ramadan – the holiest holiday in Islam – which will begin next month. This will only raise the steaks even higher, particularly with regard to Muslim militants who may try and mark the holiday with a terrorist attack on the Olympics – an “infidel” celebration.
According to officials it is the first time Ramadan has fallen on an Olympics since the 1980 Moscow Games.
Many terrorism experts say that a U.S.-based Olympics has never faced the myriad of security challenges that British officials are contending with. David Tubbs is one such expert and in an interview with USA Today said, “No U.S.-based Olympics has faced as many threats as London's faces, from Irish splinter groups to lone-wolf suicide bombers."
Tubbs, a former agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) helped coordinate security for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City and the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
Despite all the concerns, officials have noted that there is currently no specific terror threat to the Games. However, the absence of a specific threat does not preclude the absence of a threat.
The following is an analysis of the rather diverse terror threat facing the 2012 Games and London.
A view of London during 2012 Olympics
Al-Qaida and Its Various Offshoots
Al-Qaida is a lead threat to the 2012 London Olympic Games but not necessarily the lead threat this time around.
As an international spectacle in the capital city of a lead Western nation, the Olympic Games are generally an attractive target to al-Qaida. Even more, the organization has long had many grievances against Britain for its participation in the U.S.-led wars and subsequent occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The threat from al-Qaida resonates deeply with the British state, especially London.
Earlier this month London mourned the passing of the seventh anniversary of the July 7 bombings in that city. At least 52 people were killed and 700 wounded in the 2005 incident when al-Qaida operatives Hasib Mir Hussain, Shehzad Tanweer, Germaine Lindsay, and plot leader Mohammad Sidique Khan executed a series of suicide bombings in the London Underground and on buses in a coordinated attack that occurred during the morning rush hour.
The incident was the deadliest terrorist attack to ever be perpetrated on British soil with many referring to it as Britain’s 9/11.
Interestingly, the bombings occurred just a day after London discovered that the International Olympic Committee had chosen the city to host the 2012 Games.
Al-Qaida has suffered a significant degree of setbacks and defeats, the greatest of which involved the May 2011 death of the group’s founder, Osama bin Laden during a raid on his Pakistani villa by members of the elite U.S. Navy Seal Team Six.
Bin Laden had provided the organization with its leadership, inspiration and direction.
The loss of bin Laden as well as a series of captures or deaths of other top leaders and numerous foiled terror plots over the past few years has stalled the group’s momentum.
Once considered the gold standard, al-Qaida is no longer at the cutting edge of terrorism.
Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, who became the leader of al-Qaeda following bin Laden’s death, has struggled mightily to reverse the battered group’s continued string of misfortunes and return it to the level of prominence that it had known during its heyday of the late 90’s and the period immediately following the 9/11 attacks upon the U.S.
It is unclear if al-Zawahiri will be able to rally enough fighters and resources to strike at London’s Olympic Games from the terror group’s Afghan base. Though an opportunity to attack the Games may seem too attractive of a possibility to pass up, the organization may simply not be in a position to act upon it.
Relentlessly hunted by coalition troops and wary of drone attacks, the terror organization that had once inspired paralyzing fear and despair globally is now itself paralyzed and seemingly in a perpetual state of abeyance.
Screenshot from Osama tape
One of the still picture of Osama bin Laden shown on a jihadist website.
The group’s main purpose at this time is that of its own survival. The heavy presence of coalition troops in Afghanistan has kept al-Qaida from finding a safe corner in that nation where they can settle into and safely plan and train for another attack on the West.
More likely than not, if al-Qaida does intend to take a shot at disrupting the Games it will come from members pre-positioned in London (a terror cell) or from actual legal citizens of Britain who also happen to be radical Muslims with no initial connection to the core terror group but a desire to join the movement and uphold the banner by perpetrating an attack in its name.
Most analysts agree that over the past years al-Qaida has become less of an actual group and more of a movement.
Though the terror organization has been left rocked and reeling by a series of setbacks, officials are also quick to note that it is not quite a spent force.
To put it simply, you can never really count al-Qaida out or underestimate it.
National Counterterrorism Center
Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, mastermind of the al-Qaida organization
British authorities believe that they may have intercepted at least one threat posed to the Games by al-Qaida.
The Telegraph informs that earlier this month authorities arrested a suspected al-Qaida militant known as CF (authorities would not release his full name).
Britain’s Home Office (the British equivalent of America’s Department of Homeland Security) says the 24 year-old man is linked to a group of six British nationals who had received terror training from al-Qaeda leader Saleh Nabhan, who was killed in 2009 by U.S. Navy Seal Team 6.
Officials suspect CF was plotting a suicide bombing in Olympic Stadium during the Games.
Another plot involving the highly toxic poison cyanide was foiled this past March by agents from Britain’s MI5.
Though al-Qaida currently remains the world’s lead terror organization, it has not launched a 9/11 caliber attack upon the West in over a decade and is now beginning to be eclipsed by the Shia Muslim-based terrorism of Hezbollah and the state terrorism of Iran.
A more potent threat may come in the form of one or several of al-Qaida’s various offshoots: al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaida in Iraq and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. However, it should also be noted that the majority of these offshoots are themselves currently fairing no better in their respective regions than their parent organization in Afghanistan.
Various Terror Groups (Sunni Muslim Militancy)
Since 2002, Chechen terrorist organizations seeking independence for the Russian province of Chechnya have carried out numerous acts of terrorism that have largely occurred in the capital, Moscow.
The Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade (IIPB), Special Purpose Islamic Regiment (SPIR), and the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs are the lead terrorist groups in Chechnya.
The goal of the aforementioned terror groups is to see Chechnya breakaway from the Russian Federation and become a separate nation governed by Sharia Law.
Some of these groups had originally battled Russian military forces in insurgency and guerrilla warfare. However, they would eventually switch to outright terrorism in their efforts to force Chechnya from Russia’s grasp when they realized that they could not match weaponry, resources and manpower against the military.
Chechen terrorists have killed nearly a thousand civilians throughout Russia since 2002 through mid-air bombings of commercial passenger aircraft, bombings aboard subway trains, and a bombing at Moscow’s international airport. Terrorists have also bombed shopping centers and a music concert.
The most notable attacks by terrorists against Russia were that of a 2002 mass hostage taking at a theater in Moscow and the 2004 mass hostage taking of a school in Beslan.
Chechnya’s terror groups are believed to have moderate to strong ties with al-Qaida.
Chechen terrorists have not carried out an act of terrorism outside of Russia’s borders. However, if they do dispatch a terror cell to London to perpetrate an attack at the Games, their target would almost certainly be the Russian Olympic team.
Al-Shabaab is yet another potential threat to the Games. This group is an organization that engages in terrorism and is currently waging an insurgency against the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and its protector, the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).
The group’s initial goal is to overthrow the ruling TFG and seize all of Somalia which they intend to subject to the harshest strain of Sharia Law (Islamic Law). Long-term goals involve the overthrowing of every government in Africa and subjecting the entire continent to Sharia Law.
In 2010, al-Shabaab had control of half the nation but inroads by AMISOM peacekeeping troops over the past two years have forced the terror group to retreat and yield much of its territory.
As the group experiences increased defeats through insurgent warfare against the much better equipped AMISOM troops, al-Shabbab has increasing relied on the dark tactic of terrorism, attacking soft targets in the capital, Mogadishu.
al Shabaab fighters outside of Mogadishu
Al-Shabaab has a very close relationship with al-Qaida which has sent many instructors over the years to train the Somalia-based group in a variety of combat skills. Al-Qaida fugitives being pursued by U.S. forces have hid out in Somalia under the protection of al-Shabaab.
A suspected al-Qaida terrorist known as CF who was captured by authorities in London earlier this month in an alleged plot to perpetrate a suicide bombing at the Olympic Games reportedly fought alongside al-Shabaab in Somalia. CF was also looking to recruit young Muslim men from Britain to travel to Somalia and join al-Shabaab.
A unique feature about al-Shabaab is the large number of foreigners within its ranks, specifically young Muslim men hailing from Western nations.
Al-Shabaab has managed to recruit droves of young men ranging in age from their late teens to early 30’s from local Muslim communities in Britain, the United States and Canada. These young men travel to Somalia to become members of al-Shabaab and fulfill jihadist ambitions.
According to Canada’s National Post, the Royal Mounted Canadian Police believes that over 20 Canadian Muslims have traveled to Somalia to join al-Shabaab and that at least three were killed in warfare.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) suspects the group of having recruited at least 40 Americans since 2007.
A number of Britons have also been recruited into al-Shabaab though actual numbers were difficult to come by.
While it is also suspected that al-Shabaab may have received recruits from Germany and even Australia, these numbers are believed to be very small. The bulk of the terror group’s Western recruits are drawn from Britain, America, and Canada.
According to a 2010 report on al-Shabaab by Foreign Policy Research Institute, at least 200 to 300 Westerners had been recruited in to the group’s ranks.
Many of these young men travel to Somalia to join al-Shabaab and dedicate their lives to jihad. More than a few have met their death in that foreign land in battles against AMISOM troops.
But there are others who receive the paramilitary training from al-Shabaab and then quietly return home. Suddenly reappearing on the streets of their hometowns after an unexplained absence of several months and now looking to resume their lives as if nothing had ever happened.
Silent and elusive on all inquiries regarding the period of his disappearance while guarding a very dark secret close to his heart.
Those are the al-Shabaab fighters that concern Western authorities the most.
Though al-Shabaab’s operational focus is largely regional in scope, al-Qaida has been encouraging it to focus on waging jihad beyond the African continent.
While is not clear how far beyond Africa al-Shabaab’s reach extends, some analysts note that the group may already have the resources in place to carry out an attack on the West through the young men it has trained in Somalia and then allowed to returned home to their respective Western nations.
Some of these militants may be British citizens that may be present in London during the Games.
There are numerous other Sunni Islam-based terror groups may also aspire to attack the Games, some of which include: Army of Islam, Ansar al-Islam, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan as well as various Pakistani jihadist groups. Most of these groups also have ties to al-Qaida.
Among the least likely terrorist groups to attack the Games are those belonging to the Palestinian Territories. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are perhaps among only a handful of groups that will have very little or no interest in targeting the Games.
Palestinians are currently enjoying a high level of support and sympathy from much of the world for their cause to establish a homeland.
A terror attack on Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games would see all of that vanish within a matter of hours.
Hezbollah and Iranian Operatives (Shia Muslim Militancy)
Hezbollah is the standard banner carrier for Shia (Shitte) terrorism and is perhaps the only group that is on par with al-Qaida in terms of resources and possessing a global reach.
The group is based in Lebanon with a roster of over 12,000 fighters. The group is led by Hasan Nasrallah, often referred to as the Shia version of Osama bin Laden by intelligence officials.
However, unlike al-Qaida which operates with full autonomy and answers to no nation, Hezbollah operations with semi-autonomy and is largely beholden to the Islamic Republic of Iran whom it serves as a proxy force.
Iran is Hezbollah’s key sponsor, providing it with high-quality military-grade weaponry that no other terrorist organization (including al-Qaida) possesses and millions in funding.
Hezbollah’s sworn enemies are Israel and the United States (in that order) and occasionally rival Sunni Muslim militants as well as the Lebanese military.
The operational sphere for militant activity of Hezbollah has historically been in the Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Israel, Syria, Iran and Iraq.
However, the group has not restricted its operations to the Middle East region. In fact, Hezbollah engages in significant activity that is global in scope.
The group is said to maintain a notable presence in the Tri-Border Region of South America, an area where the borders of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil meet and where the Iguazú and Paraná rivers converge. Hezbollah reportedly has a base and training camp in that area. The Tri-Border Region (also referred to as The Triple Frontier) area is known for its lawlessness and is a haven for virtually any type of criminal, including fugitives, weapons and drug traffickers, human traffickers as well as terrorists. Lawlessness persists in the Tri-Border Region largely because neither of the three South American countries whose borders make up that area want the headache of policing it despite prodding and the promise of assistance from the U.S.
On July 18, 1994, the terror group detonated a car bomb at a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The blast left 85 dead and 200 wounded.
Attacks of this magnitude outside of the Middle East region by Hezbollah are extremely rare. The group prefers to use the terror cells it has stationed throughout South America, Europe and North America (U.S., Canada and Mexico) for the purposes of fundraising rather than attacks. However, some analyst believe that Hezbollah is gearing up to unleash an unprecedented wave of terrorism upon the U.S. should it enter into war with Iran.
Hezbollah has a long history of having shed American blood.
On October 23, 1983, Hezbollah carried out a truck bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks at Beirut International Airport. The attack killed 241 U.S. Marines and forced the famed fighting force and a multinational peacekeeping to withdraw from Lebanon.
That terrorist attack would remain the deadliest in American history until al-Qaida’s 9/11 attacks.
An attack at the Olympics by Hezbollah would almost exclusively target Israelis and the Jewish people though there is a possibility that it would also target Americans.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic of Iran currently poses even more of a threat to the Games than Hezbollah.
Iran is suspected to be engaged in a clandestine campaign of state terrorism through the use of agents to attack Israeli targets globally, specifically diplomats and tourists of the Jewish state.
The latest attack came on July 18 when a suicide bomber targeted Israeli tourists on a bus in Bulgaria. At least five Israelis were killed in the attack.
Other suspected plots of state terrorism by the Iranian state has involved efforts to target Israeli diplomats and citizens in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Bangkok, Cyprus, and even Washington D.C.
Israeli and U.S. officials blame Iran for the acts of state terrorism while the regime itself has vehemently denied any involvement in the attacks. Though there is not indisputable evidence linking Iran to all of these acts, there is enough available for it to be considered a very strong suspect in these crimes.
Considering recent history and the current global political climate, there is a distinct possibility that Iranian agents or its proxies could target Israeli athletes at the Games. British officials would be remiss not to entertain this possibility and prepare for it.
Interestingly, while Iran may (or may not) be targeting Israeli Olympic athletes and tourists in London this summer, its own athletes at the event may be in the target sights of terrorists that are hostile to it.
Al-Qaida has long despised Iran and has even gone so far as to threaten Iran with attack in the past.
Al-Qaida and other Sunni Muslim militant groups view Iran as a heretical entity because the Shia strain of Islam which it adheres to follows a different belief system than their own.
What’s more is that immediately after the 9/11 attacks the U.S. and Iran formed a partnership (albeit a shaky one) to fight terrorism. In the months following 9/11, Iran detained dozens of al-Qaida members within its borders and turned them over to U.S. officials. However, this partnership was scrapped after former president George W. Bush named Iran as an element of the “Axis of Evil” during his memorable January 2002 State of the Union address.
Lone Wolf, Ad-Hoc Terror and Fundamentalist Groups
With memories of Britain’s participation in the invasion and occupation of Iraq still fresh and the ongoing war in Afghanistan, the U.K.’s fundamentalist Muslim population poses a notable threat.
The London-based Muslims Against the Crusaders (MAC), a fundamentalist Islam and militant protest group has emerged as a top threat. Though it has no record of actual terrorist attacks, the group has long supported violence against Britain and the West and has itself made threats of violence, including an ominous threat to engage in an act of protest that could potentially result in violence at the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton in April 2011.
An image from the April 29, 2012, Royal Wedding of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton.
Since the late 90’s there has been a sharp increase in the number of young Muslim men and women embracing fundamentalist beliefs in Britain. This is evident by the increase in the number of fundamentalist Islamic groups in London of the years which have included: al-Muhajiroun, The Saviour Sect (also known as The Saved Sect), Al Ghurabaa, Islam4UK. Many of these groups are no longer in operation today with most of them being outlawed by authorities under a post 9/11 law in Britain that bans groups for “glorifying terrorism.”
MAC is currently the best known, popular and most active fundamentalist group in Britain.
For the most part, fundamentalist groups give Muslims an outlet to express their feelings of contempt towards Britain over such varied issues as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the ongoing U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and perceived injustices against Muslims both at home and abroad.
Most members of these groups are content with joining a group where they can march in protests and engage in activist work that is high-profile but otherwise legal.
However, there are a small number who tire of non-violent activism and eventually graduate to terrorism. These individuals either join existing terror groups or begin to plot their own act of terror as a lone wolf.
This would support the viewpoint of officials who believe that fundamentalist groups should be outlawed because they are potential incubators of lone wolf terrorists.
Earlier this month, police foiled a potential terrorist attack when they arrested seven Islamic extremists and opened an investigation that uncovered a cache of high-caliber weaponry and ammunition.
While none of those arrested had links to international terrorist organizations, some were members of MAC.
One suspect arrested in the plot was a Bangladeshi who had worked as a Police Community Support Officer (volunteer police officer) for the Metropolitan Police Service in London from 2007 to 2009.
But perhaps the most notable of the suspects arrested in that incident is a young man by the name of Richard Dart, a 29 year-old white Briton who was raised as a Christian but converted to Islam. Dart had changed his name to Salahuddin al-Britani after his conversion to Islam.
Dart, a member of the MAC was featured in the BBC documentary My Brother The Islamist.
While it is common knowledge amongst analysts, intelligence and law enforcement officials that most lone wolves have little to virtual no experience in terror tactics and are more prone to make amateurish mistakes and bungle their own plots, these types of extremists also present a different type of danger and have a unique set of advantages that the established terrorist does not.
Lone wolves present a unique danger in the sense that they are usually not as known to authorities as militants from existing terror groups. Because most lone wolves have little or no history in terrorist activity, authorities are not aware of them and thus not monitoring their actions.
There have been occasions where authorities were only able to capture a lone wolf because of an error on his part rather than anything having to do with exceptional investigative work.
The idea that Muslims affiliated with fundamentalist groups or those that have no group affiliation at all could team-up to form an ad-hoc terror group for the purpose of attacking the Games is not inconceivable.
The ad-hoc terror group threat involves likeminded Muslim fundamentalists with no connection to any known terrorist entity but harboring a desire to unleash violence and banding together for the sole purpose of attacking one or more targets, in this instance the target in question would be the Olympic Games.
The group of terrorists that carried out the February 26, 1993 truck bombing against the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan were an ad-hoc group that was led by veteran terrorist Ramzi Yousef. Yousef along with four other co-conspirators had assembled for the sole purpose of carrying out that single attack on the World Trade Center. After the attack was completed, the group dispersed with everyone going his separate way.
Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA)
A significant possibility exists that the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) may stage an attack at the Games this summer. If the group were to launch an attack upon the Olympics, their target would very likely be British athletes participating in the Games.
On August 3, 2001, car bombing by the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) in Ealing, London, United Kingdom. Seven people suffered injuries and the Ealing Broadway shopping center, which was adjacent to the blast, suffered substantial property damage.
The RIRA is a dissident Irish republican nationalist militant group and a holdover from The Troubles; a period of significant discord in Northern Ireland between the nationalist and unionist communities that began in the late 60’s and finally abated in the late 90’s.
The RIRA’s origins can be traced back to November 1997 or early 1998, when the group was formed in opposition to the Good Friday Agreement.
The RIRA, also known as Óglaigh na hÉireann (Gaelic language), is a relatively small organization that was initially founded and led by Michael McKevitt. The group’s main goal is a united Ireland by forcing the end of British sovereignty over Northern Ireland through the use of force.
On August 15, 1998 the RIRA carried out an attack that involved the detonation of a car bomb filled with 500 pounds of explosives in the shopping district of Omagh, a city in Northern Ireland. At least 29 people were killed and 220 were wounded. This act of terrorism was the RIRA’s deadliest attack and the deadliest in the history of Ireland.
The bombing received international condemnation and inspired the song Peace on Earth by the popular rock group U2.
Another significant terrorist attack attributed to the group involved the March 4, 2001 midnight car bombing of the BBC’s studios and international headquarters in London. There were no fatalities though one person was wounded in the blast.
Since October 1999, more than 80 attacks have been attributed to the RIRA.
During the late 90’s the group’s ranks numbered between 150 and 200. However, the group’s ranks were decimated after a series of crackdowns by officials in both Britain and Ireland that led to the lengthy imprisonment of McKevitt and over 40 other militants. Today, its ranks are expected to be only a few dozen in number or no more than 50 at the most.
The group spent several years floundering and suffering various setbacks after losing McKevitt but now appears to have stabilized. Since 2008 the RIRA has launched a steady stream of attacks that have largely targeted Irish police officials and British troops in Northern Ireland.
The International Monitoring Committee's October 2006 report stated that the group remains "active and dangerous" and that it seeks to "sustain its position as a terrorist organization."
The Omagh Bomb Memorial on Market Street in Omagh, Northern Ireland. On August 15, 1998 at approximately 3:10 p.m., members from the Real Irish Republican Army detonated a car that claimed the lives of 28 people and wounded 220 others. The bombing was the worst terrorist attack in the history of Ireland.
On February 7, 2008, the RIRA issued a statement to the news media in Northern Ireland in which it said, after experiencing a three-year period of reorganization, it intends to "go back to war" by launching a new offensive against "legitimate targets".
The group could solidify its comeback with an attack on the London Olympic Games.
The RIRA may choose to attack the city of London itself if the Olympics prove to be too hard of a target. Though a deadly attack upon the Games would be a far more prestigious target, carrying out a shooting spree or bombing at a shopping center or a London Underground station would garner instant global attention for the group and its cause, plunge London and all of Britain into a state of national mourning as well as cast a pall over the remainder of the 2012 Olympic Games.
London Underground train at the Central Line platforms of Oxford Circus tube station. Terrorists of the Real Irish Republican Army seeking to carry out an attack during the Olympics may go after softer targets like those of public transport systems and shopping centers if the Games prove to be too hard of a target.
Combat 18 – Right-Wing Extremist Threat
This extremely violent and militant British neo-Nazi group possess a domestic terrorism threat to London’s Olympic Games.
Combat 18 conducts paramilitary training with high-powered weaponry throughout Britain. The group is also believed by officials to have amassed a significant stockpile of assault rifles and explosives over the past two decades.
The group is considered a domestic terrorist group and has been linked to several arson attacks and bombings.
The outfit has also been linked to dozens of hate crime beatings of minorities throughout Britain.
Combat 18’s ultimate goal is to make Britain an all-white nation by using violence to force racial minorities out of the country.
The group is said to have links to the right-wing political parties of the National Front and the British National Party.
As a diverse, multicultural affair where groups of virtually every nationality and ethnicity gather to celebrate humanity, the Olympics would represent a prime target for Combat 18 or any other white supremacist/separatist organization which generally believes in the separation of races and ethnicities.
White supremacists have been linked to a past act of terrorism at the Olympic Games.
Eric Robert Rudolph killed two people and wounded 100 others when he remotely detonated a backpack bomb at Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Rudolph was an adherent of Christian Identity, a warped version of the Christian faith with a white supremacist theology.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Eric Robert Rudolph, an anti-government militant with ties to white supremacist groups, carried out a sting of bombings throughout the Southeast region of the United States between 1996 and 1998. Rudolph's most infamous bombing was that of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta during which two were killed and several dozen wounded. Rudolph was captured and sentenced in 2005 to a life-term in prison.
A neo-Nazi/white supremacist attack could also come from an individual or lone wolf not at all associated with Combat 18 or any other formal organization but is nonetheless inspired into action by the extreme rhetoric espoused by these groups.
In April 1996, Britain experienced lone wolf racial-based terrorism when David Copeland, a neo-Nazi carried out a series of bombings in supermarkets and pubs throughout London that left three dead and 129 wounded.
Copeland was captured by London authorities soon after his attack. He was convicted of murder in June 2000, and given six concurrent life sentences.
Copeland was not a member of Combat 18 or any other militant hate group.
Anarchists – Left-Wing Extremist Threat
Anarchists are another troublesome entity that has threatened to disrupt the Games through acts of sabotage and “low-level warfare.”
The Informal Anarchist Federation (IAF) has said that it would target judicial, military, financial and public transport systems during the Olympics in an effort to disrupt the social peace of London and the nation.
In fact, anarchists appear to have gotten off to an early start in their campaign of mayhem well before the commencement of the opening ceremony to the Games..
According to the U.K. news agency, The Telegraph, anarchists claimed credit for damaging several traffic signals that caused widespread disruption and delays to railway service throughout Britain earlier this week.
The IAF posted a statement about their campaign to disrupt the Olympic Games on the anarchist website 325.nostate, the group said:
In the United Kingdom of clockwork control and domestication, we’re some of the ‘unpatriotic ones’ who find the 2012 Olympics, with the ensuing spectacle of wealth (when so many here struggle to feed themselves and their families), harmful developments and escalating police state, frankly offensive.
The IAF further said:
But no union or movement calls our shots, and we have no inhibition to use guerrilla activity to hurt the national image and paralyze the economy however we can.
And concluded with:
Because simply, we don’t want rich tourists – we want civil war.
In a separate statement on the same website, IAF states:
The purpose of guerrilla attack is to spread the struggle into different territories and facets of life.
The IAF may also be capable of more than just sabotage and have a capacity for actual violence against persons.
The group had previous claimed credit for a drive-by shooting in Italy in which the chief executive of a nuclear power firm was shot in the kneecaps.
Over the past few years anarchists have begun to emerge as a potent terrorist threat. Anarchists reject authority and advocate stateless societies. Their beliefs are usually categorized as radical leftist ideology. Since the World Trade Organization demonstrations of the 90’s they have become more visible to public.
Anarchists throughout the world frequently participate in protests that can be linked to a variety of leftist and social justice causes that range from anti-globalization and economic inequality to demonstrations against racism and police brutality.
There has been a small anarchist presence within the popular American-based protest movement known as Occupy Wall Street. The presence of anarchists may have been used as justification for the extensive filming and surveillance activity against OWS demonstrators by the New York City Police Department’s Counter Terrorism Bureau and Intelligence Division.
It should be noted though that while anarchist are generally anti-authority and anti-government, almost all oppose any form of violence. Most engage in peaceful protest against the state through marches or other colorful forms of protest and expression like those of publishing newsletters, books, blogging, conventions, festivals and workshops.
However, there are a small number of potentially dangerous adherents to the anarchist belief system who not only passively support violent revolution and propaganda of the deed on the path to an anarchist society, but actually seek to perpetrate it themselves.
The phrase propaganda of the deed, is a concept that refers to the utilization of violent methods that is meant to be exemplary to others and is a phrase often heard in the realm of academia in regards to terrorism studies.
Black Bloc, a militant protest and aggressively confrontational anarchist movement, is a source of concern. The members of the movement specialize in hijacking otherwise peaceful protests and turning them into violence encounters that resemble a mini-riot and involve damage to public and private property and confrontations with police.
Black bloc near the World Bank in the Crystal City area of Washington, DC during feeder march to anti-war "March on the Pentagon" in 2009.
Besides militant protests there have been two recent cases in the United States where persons who adhere to an anarchist system of beliefs have plotted acts of terrorism.
In March 2002, anarchist Joseph Konopka, 25, was arrested by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for plotting to release deadly hydrogen cyanide gas within the Chicago subway system.
In May 2012, FBI agents arrested a group of five anarchists that were plotting to bomb the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge in Cleveland, Ohio.
The men were also plotting to detonate a bomb at a casino in Cleveland as well as attack a branch of the Federal Reserve Bank in that city. Other targets included a NATO summit in Chicago and the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.
As authorities remain on guard against the threat of sabotage by anarchists they should also expect protests in London for the duration of the Olympics with the possibility that Black Bloc will be putting in an appearance at some of those demonstrations.
Illustration of a militant Black Bloc activist in protest gear.
Terrorists could also carry out an entirely web-based strike upon the Games and the nation itself.
The 2012 Olympics will be the first to enter the digital age in full, and with that come new concerns that the Games could be a huge target for hackers, cybercriminals and terrorists.
Established terrorist organizations like those of al-Qaida and Hezbollah have expressed interest in starting up branches in their respective organizations that could carry out cyber attacks. It is not yet clear if they posses this uniquely destructive capability.
However, a cyberterrorism attack could come from a terrorist group representing any political or religious cause. Its all a matter of training existing members or recruiting someone who is familiar with the skills that are needed to launch a cyber attack.
An act of cyber terrorism could also come from a small group or individual with no links to any established terrorist organization, a digital lone wolf.
A cyber attack could be used to perpetrate various acts of electronic sabotage that could include everything from fraud to attacks on banking systems, power grids, transportation networks, military and government computers.
The Echoes of Munich
The 2012 London Olympic Games marks the 40th Anniversary of the Munich Massacre.
At the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, West Germany, a team of militant Palestinian nationalists stormed the Olympic Village and held a dozen Israeli athletes as hostages for several hours before a botched hostage rescue attempt by authorities triggered a fierce shootout with the heavily armed gunmen that resulted in the deaths of all the hostages.
If the events at Munich have taught us anything it is that terrorists are opportunists by nature and will rarely hesitate to exploit an opening or vulnerability.
Plaque in front of the Israeli athletes' quarters commemorating the victims of the Munich massacre which occurred on September 5–6 during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.
The lessons of Munich came at a terrible price.
With each passing generation of the Olympics the quiet echoes of Munich can be heard and seen in the massive security preparations that are now part and parcel of this massive event.
Those echoes drive officials to push the envelope and implement the most extraordinary and sometimes even outrageous security precautions to secure the Games.
Achieving absolute and maximum security becomes a quiet obsession.
The echoes of Munich.
British forces have much to contend with in their struggle to defend the Games but the lessons of Terrorism 101 will go a long way towards keeping the Games and London safe: Never underestimate your opponent and be prepared for anything. Expect the unexpected.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com