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Last weekend a new potential al-Qaeda security threat to the London Olympics emerged.
A suspected al-Shabaab fighter – a 24 year old male known as CF – was caught crossing through the Olympic Park on the London Overground railway system on five occasions in April and May of this year.
In 2008, CF is thought to have tried to enter Afghanistan for terrorist training and to take part in suicide operations. He was charged for this in the UK, and subsequently fled to Somalia in June 2009 – only to be acquitted of any crime in his absence. During his time in Somalia, CF is believed to have attended terrorist training and fought alongside al-Shabaab. CF was arrested in Somaliland on 14 January 2011, and deported to Britain in March 2011.
In the UK, CF is suspected of trying to recruit Britons to al-Shabaab. According to the Home Office, he is also linked to six British nationals who received terror training from the senior al-Qaeda leader, Saleh Nabhan (killed by US Navy Seals in 2009).
In 2011, CF served two months in prison in the UK for absconding. He was subsequently placed under a control order – which aimed to control the activities of terror suspects – and required to live in Norwich. However, when Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (Tpim) replaced control orders in 2012, the government lost its ability to relocate terror suspects. He was subsequently allowed to return to London, where he breached the conditions of his Tpim.
However, one of the conditions of his Tpim was a ban on using the London Overground railway system route that passes through the Olympic Park. CF is now being prosecuted for breaching this.
The Olympic Games are regarded as a high value target for terrorists. In June 2012, Jonathan Evans, head of MI-5, described the Games as ‘an attractive target for our enemies’ and said there was ‘no shortage of individuals talking about wanting to mount terrorist attacks’ in Britain.’ British intelligence sources believe that a minimum of 200 potential terrorists are actively planning suicide attacks in the United Kingdom. The current threat level is ‘substantial’ (an attack is a strong possibility), although Scotland Yard has stated that the risk of attack during the Olympics will increase to ‘severe’ (an attack is highly likely).