London should be ‘very concerned’ about terror threat, Boris Johnson says
- Far more militants than previously thought are under surveillance
- And Mayor claims threat not only comes from those returning from Syria
- He said: ‘London has a particular concern…every day security forces involved in thousands of operations’
- Meanwhile – police officers warned uniform could make them terror targets
Thousands of terror suspects in the UK are being monitored by the security services, it has been claimed.
Far more militants than previously thought are under surveillance, according to the Mayor of London.
Boris Johnson said the threat from Islamist extremists may be greater than officials have admitted.
It had been believed that the main danger came from some 500 jihadis who have travelled to Syria and Iraq from Britain to join Islamic State or Al-Qaeda. About half of these have since returned to the UK.
Scroll down for video
Boris Johnson said the threat from Islamist extremists may be greater than officials have admitted and claimed ‘there are probably in the low thousands of people that we are monitoring in London’
But Mr Johnson told the Daily Telegraph the danger was much more widespread than the relatively small numbers of extremists who have gone abroad to fight.
‘In London we’re very, very vigilant and very, very concerned,’ he said. ‘Every day – as you saw recently, we had to raise the threat level – every day the security services are involved in thousands of operations.
‘There are probably in the low thousands of people that we are monitoring in London.’
Speaking about IS, the jihadist organisation that has beheaded two British hostages, he said: ‘London has a particular concern, because probably of the five or six hundred that are out there, we think a third, maybe more – maybe half – come from the London area.
‘If and when they come back, we have a real job to deal with them.’
Mr Johnson gave the interview to promote his new biography of Sir Winston Churchill, The Churchill Factor. He said he believed the wartime leader would have approved of Parliament’s decision to back air strikes on Islamic State in Iraq.
POLICE OFFICERS TOLD UNIFORM COULD MAKE THEM TERROR TARGET
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, of the Met Police said policing methods would not change
More than 200,000 police officers and staff were warned last night that they could be directly targeted by terrorists.
Chief constables in every force across Britain are putting extra measures in place to protect those on the frontline. They have urged officers to be extra vigilant in the face of the growing threat posed by violent Islamic fundamentalists.
Police were told to take every precaution while off-duty and not to unnecessarily identify themselves as police officers. The warning included reminders not to speak about work in public and to remove items such as identification cards. Officials refused to discuss details of the warning, but counter-terrorism police are thought to have received information that officers could be terror targets.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, of the Metropolitan Police, said the threat would not change policing methods. He added: ‘We are informing officers and staff of the heightened risk and reminding them to remain vigilant.’
‘I think he would be appalled by the spectacle of these cowards executing journalists, and I think he would have wanted to do something to set them back a long way, and if need be, to neutralise them altogether,’ Mr Johnson said.
‘He was a great believer in air power – don’t forget he invented the RAF – so I think he’d do exactly what the Prime Minister is doing.’
Mr Johnson said Mr Churchill would have been ‘very tough’ on home-grown terrorism, and would have taken ‘personal charge’ of the situation.
‘Had he been Home Secretary now, he would be absolutely appalled to think that these people could be carrying British passports and yet be loyal to another state.’
Share or comment on this article
Share what you think
The comments below have been moderated in advance.
The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.
Who is this week’s top commenter?
Find out now