Londoners must be
alert to pre-Xmas terror
attack: Cressida Dick

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LONDON: Londoners have been warned to be alert to thwart the threat of a pre-Christmas extremist attack in the capital as Commissioner Cressida Dick described the killing of Sir David Amess as a “chilling reminder” of the continuing terrorist danger.

The Met Commissioner, writing in the Standard, said it was vital that members of the public showed the “bravery” to report suspicious behaviour, regardless of who it involved, and that tipping off police would “save lives rather than ruin them”.

Commissioner Cressida Dick

She said one reason was that the number of terror investigations underway by police and MI5 was at record levels. She added that another was that many of the plots “had a connection to London” – meaning that they were focused on targets in London, involved extremists from the capital, or both.

“We recently saw in Essex yet another terrorist attack with the terrible murder of Sir David Amess MP, and with it, a chilling reminder that the threat of terrorism is very real,” the Commissioner said today in an article for this newspaper.

“So it’s vitally important that Londoners continue to be alert and vigilant.

“This is particularly true as we continue to enjoy regaining our freedom in the run-up to Christmas. if you see or hear anything suspicious then I urge you to report it to us.”

Dame Cressida’s comments came as she and the City of London Police Commissioner Ian Dyson attended a ceremony in the capital to honour police, paramedics, other emergency service workers, and members of the public for their courage in responding to the Fishmongers’ Hall attack on 29 November 2019 in which two people, Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt were stabbed to death by the freed terror convict Usman Khan.

He was shot dead by armed officers who ran up to him despite seeing the apparent suicide belt he was wearing, but might have killed more if he had not already been confronted by members of the public and a plain clothes policeman who wrestled Khan’s knife from him. Dame Cressida said that members of the public could help prevent further attacks by showing a different form of courage in raising the alarm about suspect behaviour.

“Bravery has many forms and we also need people to have the courage and confidence to report something to us that might feel wrong or seem suspicious,” she said.

“Counter Terrorism investigations across the UK remain at record levels, with more than 800 live investigations and 31 foiled plots since 2017. A significant proportion of that activity has a connection to London.”

The killing of Sir David, who was fatally stabbed outside the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea earlier this month, has been classed by counter-terrorism police as an Islamist attack. Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old Londoner has been charged with the MP’s murder.

Apart from the Fishmongers’ Hall murders, other terrorist attacks to have the capital in recent years include the attack at London Bridge and Borough Market in June 2017 in which 11 people were killed and the Westminster attack earlier the same year, which claimed five lives. There was also the Streatham attack of 2020 in which two people received knife injuries before armed police shot dead the attacker Sudesh Amman, another convicted terrorist who had been released from prison a short time before.

The dangers of a pre-Christmas attack were highlighted most vividly by the murders in Berlin In December 2016 which led to 13 deaths after a Tunisian jihadist drove a truck into one of the city’s famed Christmas markets.