London Olympic security reviewed after France attacks
LONDON - The Associated Press
Members of the Metropolitan Police Marine Policing Unit (MPU) and Royal Marines perform a joint exercise for the media on the River Thames in London January 19, 2012. REUTERS Photo
Britain has planned for a dizzying array of security nightmares surrounding the Olympics, including a coordinated attack like the London transit bombings, a dirty bomb or a cyberattack.
In the wake of France's deadly shootings, one scenario weighing heavily on the minds of security officials is the self-starter operating with little or no help from others.
And, they admit, there are limits to what security personnel can do.
"You cannot exclude something similar," said Denis Oswald, head of the International Olympic Committee's coordination commission for the London Games.
Mohamed Merah - a 23-year-old Muslim extremist who trained in Afghanistan - claimed responsibility for killing paratroopers, Jewish children and a rabbi in a weeklong shooting rampage in the French city of Toulouse. Police shot him dead last week after a 32-hour standoff.
French politicians have painted him as a "lone wolf" killer. But police are looking for possible accomplices, and suspicions grew that he had help when it turned out an apparent video of the attacks sent to the Al-Jazeera news network was not sent by Merah.
French officials say Merah moved in extremist Muslim circles in France and had been to Afghanistan twice. He told police he had trained in the Pakistani militant stronghold of Waziristan. He also had a long criminal record and a brother who had been suspected in a 2007 network that sent militant fighters to Iraq.
But French officials say there wasn't enough evidence of a threat to put Mohamed Merah under regular surveillance. Olympic security officials face a similar problem with some Islamic radicals in Britain ahead of the games.
"The reality is that there are hosts of people like this and most of them will never do anything," said a British government official who spoke on condition of anonymity to the AP because of the sensitivity of his work. "You can't follow everyone around."