Commonwealth Games: MI5 and the police must be “in top form” in the face of the Russian threat | Science | New
In the past, major sporting events have seen both state and non-state actors launch horror attacks, with the Olympics in Atlanta and Berlin both seeing terrorism-related incidents. With the Commonwealth Games soon to be held in Birmingham, reports have already emerged that security forces will be using high-tech drones to patrol the skies near venues, as well as deploying covert security guards to provide a extra cover during games.
With Britain a major supporter of Ukraine, some fear the event could be an opportunity for Russian agents to disrupt the games or target specific individuals, using the attention generated by the event.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, a senior academic spoke about the possibilities of an attack on British soil.
Dr Steve Hewittlecturer at the University of Birminghamand author of “Britain’s War on Terror“, said: “Birmingham, as it hosts a mega-event, is going to be a massive security operation and, of course, a potential target for non-state and state terrorism.
“It’s been the biggest sporting event in the UK for almost 10 years.
“This comes at a time when lone actor terrorism has become the norm, as evidenced by several attacks over the past two years, including the murder of Tory MP Sir David Amess.
“The factors that fuel lone actor terrorism, in particular alienation, have only grown in the wake of the pandemic.”
Speaking about the threat from Russian sources following British support for Ukraine, the intelligence and security expert said: “The Commonwealth Games were also taking place at the time as a major military conflict in Europe in Ukraine. in which the government has been one of Ukraine’s most aggressive and outspoken supporters.
“The Russian response has been largely symbolic through rhetoric and the banning of journalists, but Russia also has a history of state terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism, including two well-known bombings in the UK.
“A Russian attack is highly doubtful and of course would not be done openly.
“It would be more about seeking to punish and send a message than generating publicity for a particular cause of how non-state terrorists carry out attacks.
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Speaking of the appeal of large-scale events, Dr Hewitt added: “Mega-events attract terrorists because of the potential audience that can be reached, as evidenced by the 1972 Munich Olympics attack by Black September. “
Dr Hewitt said security forces must be on high alert to detect, deter and prevent any incidents.
He said: “MI5 and the police will need to be on top of their game due to the range of threats.
“This threat would not only be against plays but also against targets in the same general areas. Remember that the bombing at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 did not take place in the secure site of the Olympic Games but in a fan park where security was more limited.
“The 7/7 attacks in 2005 happened in London at the same time as G8 meetings were taking place at a very secure site in Scotland.
“These piggyback attacks are interesting because they are easier to perform because they target secure sites, but they also attract attention because they happen at the same time as important events.”
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To reassure people, Dr Hewitt concluded by saying: “I’m not saying that the Russians are going to attack the Commonwealth Games.
“Simply, that any major event would attract both non-state and state terrorists.
“A mitigating factor against Birmingham is that as the second city to host a tier two sporting event compared to the Olympics, it’s not high enough to warrant the effort of an attack.”