Terrorists may try to strike the country in the runup to an election expected within weeks, just as bombers struck Spain shortly before a vote there, London’s police chief says in an interview.
“I don’t see this in the sense of some huge security operation, but I have pointed out that — with an election coming up — terrorists might just remember the bombings in Madrid only a year ago,” Sir Ian Blair said on Thursday.
“We must be aware that al Qaeda will see the opportunity this year for a worldwide statement,” he told Whitehall and Westminster World, a magazine for civil servants.
“I know my professional intelligence assessments and I know that we are facing a threat more significant than anything we have faced since the Cold War and the Nazi tyranny before it.”
Bombers in Madrid killed nearly 200 people last year, days before an election that the incumbent centre-right party was expected to win. Its centre-left rivals won instead.
Although an election date has not been announced, it is widely expected on May 5.
Sir Ian Blair, who is not related to Prime Minister Tony Blair, is the chief of London’s Metropolitan Police, which has responsibility for anti-terrorism work throughout the country as well as day-to-day policing in the capital.
He repeated police assertions that they have thwarted major attacks. Police have in the past expressed frustration that they cannot tell the public much about their successes because trials are under way and media coverage is tightly restricted by laws to prevent juries from being prejudiced.
“I can only say that it is inevitable that terrorists will attempt to attack the United Kingdom, because I know they have. They’re now awaiting trial,” he said.