x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Individuals 'are biggest Olympic terror threat'

Bigger risk than group like Al Qaeda, expert tells security summit.

ABU DHABI // The threat of a terrorist attack during the 2012 London Olympic Games is far more likely to come from a individuals than an organisation such as Al Qaeda, says security expert Alastair Campbell.

Speaking yesterday at the Middle East Homeland Security Summit in Abu Dhabi, he warned that internal security should focus efforts on identifying individual extremists.

"Britain has not spared any expense in protecting the Olympics but individuals who decide to do something may be very difficult to control because of the public scale [of] the event," said Mr Campbell, the former director of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies.

He cited this month's Oxford-Cambridge boat race, when a man swam in front of the rowers, as an example of the sort of deliberate civil disobedience to be guarded against.

He also said that radicalism turns into terrorism at a grassroots level, long before developing and being propagated internationally.

"Usually radical groups have local economic grievances that are overlooked by their governments, leading them to acts of terrorism beyond their borders," Mr Campbell said.

Meanwhile, British intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6 are infiltrating suspect groups. "These groups are being infiltrated by Arab Muslim and Asian operatives to reduce their effect on the community and stop their operations," said Mr Campbell.

amustafa@thenational.ae