Queen Elizabeth May Have Been The Target Of A Terrorist Assassination Attempt
The ultimate target of four recently arrested Islamist terrorists was meant to be the queen of England, according to a number of news outlets. As initially reported by British tabloid The Sun, a group of terrorists planned an assassination attempt on Queen Elizabeth, but were apprehended late Thursday evening. All four of the men, who range in age from 19 to 27, will be questioned by Scotland Yard over the course of a week. British police are remaining typically tight-lipped on the terrorists' motivations, and have revealed little information as to the nature of their plan. This latest alleged plot seems to confirm the recent adjustment of the national terror threat from "substantial" to "severe," suggesting that a terrorist attack is "highly likely."
According to The Sun, the four terrorists were planning a knife attack on the 88-year-old monarch Saturday, when she would make a public appearance at the Royal British Legion Festiva to honor fallen British servicemen and women at the Royal Albert Hall. Following the authorities' discovery of the plan, numerous raids were conducted throughout West London and Buckinghamshire in order to stop the Islamist extremists from moving forward with their plan. As per The Sun's reports, the terrorists had access to firearms and other weapons that made them extremely dangerous suspects.
Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister David Cameron were allegedly told of the attempted attack, but that does not seem to have deterred either one of them from attending the weekend's ceremonies and celebrations. While Scotland Yard has not confirmed that the Queen was, indeed, the intended subject of the attacks, they have released a statement in which they note, "The men have been arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the Commission, Preparation or Instigation of acts of Terrorism." Security adviser Dai Davies, who previously headed royal protection, told the BBC that the police's discretion is necessary to keep a "sense of proportion." But needless to say, security has been significantly increased from its already inflated levels in preparation for Remembrance Sunday.
The arrest of the four alleged terrorists was relatively non-violent, as no shots were reported fired during the arrests. Police have also conducted searches on at least eight different properties to ensure that all connections have been thoroughly investigated. These arrests are simply the latest in a string of counter-terrorism operations Scotland Yard has conducted over the course of the past few months. Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley noted in October that counter-terrorism teams were "running exceptionally high numbers of counter-terrorism investigations, the likes of which we have not seen for several years."
In the last year alone, British police made a total of 218 terror-related arrests, all of which seem to point to Home Secretary Theresa May statement in late August "that a terrorist attack is highly likely." While May also pointed out at the time that there was "no intelligence to suggest that an attack is imminent," the recent alleged attempt on Queen Elizabeth's life may suggest otherwise. According to the BBC, authorities were likely given last-minute information that led to the four men's late night arrest, as "usually suspects are detained at dawn."
According to various reports, Scotland Yard is in the process of not only questioning the detainees, but also examining a number of documents seized during their numerous raids. Davies told the BBC that he was confident in the British police force, noting, "I am sure, as far as it's humanly possible, they are doing everything they possibly can to ensure that everyone has a peaceful Remembrance service." But he added that it was was particularly important for the police to remain vigilant in light of these alleged attacks, saying,
It's so symbolic to the nation, particularly 100 years since the start of World War One, that we do remember the fallen heroes - and no-one, but no-one, should deter any of us from actually carrying out what is a lawful right to remember those who died on behalf of us.
British citizens are understandably on edge following this report, with a neighbor of one of the arrested suspects telling the Huffington Post UK, "I came home at 5pm yesterday and there were lots of police cars here then. It's not the sort of thing you want to come home to — this talk of terrorism is alarming." The nation has been wary for months, especially following the discovery that "Jihadi John," the ISIS member who allegedly conducted the numerous beheadings of British and American citizens caught on camera over the last few months, may be a British national. Though there is no direct evidence linking these four Islamist extremists to ISIS, fears certainly remain at an all-time high.
In response to the threat, security forces are increasing watch on all members of the royal family, including second-time expecting parents Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate. Their visit to Wales this weekend will mark the first time the royal couple has made an appearance in their former home since announcing their pregnancy.
All eyes will certainly be on a tightly-secured Remembrance Sunday this year, but not, perhaps, for the reasons we ought to be watching.
Images: Getty Images (3)