On 7 January, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi opened fire on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. They declared they were part of the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda, and that the attack was in direct retaliation of the magazine's depiction of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. While French authorities engaged in a chase with the shooters, a close friend of the Kouachi brothers, Amedy Coulibaly, began a separate attack at a kosher market, killing two people and taking a hostage.
It was an horrendous, terrifying day, which will live long in the memory of French people - a style of simultaneous attack that has clearly alarmed the UK Government.
Plans which the Police and Downing Street hope will prevent such an attack taking place here have apparently been leaked: Operation Temperer would see 5,000 heavily armed Army troops deployed on the streets of Britain, working with armed police units to guard "key targets" should a similar simultaneous attack take place in the UK. While these troops and armed police provide "protective security", counter-terrorism measures would be put into place to track down and identify the group carrying out the attacks.
Details on the large-scale military and police response plan have been uncovered by The Mail on Sunday, which claims to have seen "documents drawn up by police chiefs and are being discussed at the highest levels of Government".
The paper reports that Baroness Jones, who sits on London’s Police and Crime Committee, was ‘shocked’ by the plans, saying: "This would be unprecedented on mainland Britain". The police chiefs apparently have concerns that policing numbers wouldn't be able to respond to a simultaneous attack comparable to those carried out in Paris in January, and thus must be able to call upon Army personnel if required.
The Mail on Sunday states that it found details of the plan in the minutes of a National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) meeting held on 22 April at a hotel in Leicester, suggesting that "Documents accidentally uploaded to the NPCC website give details of what was discussed in a closed session." The offending section of the NPCC website has now been removed.
It is understood that the plans are still to be discussed with the Government, with any use of a plan on the scale of Operation Temperer only used if the Cobra committee - chaired by the Prime Minister - felt it was a reasonable response to multiple attacks.
An insight into a raised armed police presence was demonstrated on 30 June when London's Metropolitan Police carried out Operation Strong Tower - a drill which saw police forces respond to a number of staged terrorism events, including bomb scares, shootings and hostage scenarios. Here's hoping that we never have to see such operations carried out for real, and that plans for Operation Temperer remain just that - plans.
[Via: Daily Mail]