Leader Development & Education for Sustained Peace Program: Cross-Cultural, Geopolitical & Regional Education

Topic Debate: Security and the 2012 London Olympics

Background: In early July, an alleged al Qaeda militant was arrested after he crossed through the Olympic park more than the limit imposed by the Home Secretary. The Long War Journal has an in-depth report on the operative known as “CF” and his connections to the Somali violent jihadist group al Shabaab and other European terror plots. Additionally, according to reporting by Bloomberg, police arrested 14 people in the first two weeks of July “throughout the country in two separate counter-terrorism probes as part of a 66-day operation to prevent a terrorist attack during the 17-day Olympics.”

The recent arrests, and especially CF’s alleged affiliations, are compounding an already-declared “substantial” terrorism threat level as described by Director-General of the MI5 Jonathan Evans in a briefing to the Prime Minister’s cabinet. According to the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), these threats have placed British intelligence services under “unprecedented pressure.”

The Debate: In conjunction with these reports, it is important to get a broader sense of the security situation regarding the upcoming elections. The following articles and commentaries represent a range of angles in viewing the security situation as the Olympics are due to begin on 27 July.

  • CBS reports that Britain is planning to increase the terror threat from substantial to “severe” during the games.
  • Sandra Laville, a crime correspondent for The Guardian, argues that unpredictable “lone wolves” pose the biggest security threat during the Olympics.
  • On the other hand, Reuters interviewed terrorism expert and former Minister of State for Security and Counter Terrorism Pauline Neville-Jones, who explained that London would be a tough terrorist target because the UK has their own terrorist threat: “it is one of the things that actually makes us most experienced and most capable of handling the situation.”
  • A backgrounder provided by The Heritage Foundation recommends why and how the “U.S. should assist Britain in meeting security threats to the 2012 London Olympic games.”
  • Jim Kouri, Public Safety commentator for the Examiner and fifth Vice President of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, outlines some of the mechanisms and methods used in the 2012 London Olympics counter-terrorism and policing measures. Kouri reports that “well over 500 FBI agents as well as federal law enforcement officers from U.S. agencies will be sent to Britain in order to provide security.”
  • Finally, from the perspective of a Londoner, David Conway offers his opinion about why London should not be hosting the Olympics.

Do you think the U.S. should be more involved in the security for the 2012 London Olympics?

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