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The Sunday Times July 17, 2005

Police snipers track al-Qaeda suspects

UNDERCOVER police sniper squads are tracking as many as a dozen Al-Qaeda suspects because security services fear they could be planning more suicide attacks, writes David Leppard.

The covert armed units are under orders to shoot to kill if surveillance suggests that a terror suspect is carrying a bomb and he refuses to surrender if challenged.

The deployment of the teams in the past week signals the huge “intelligence gap” that has opened up since the London bombings.

Police fear the suspects could be planning a further wave of attacks but do not have enough evidence to arrest them, or place them under the government’s new anti-terror control orders.

Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, warned last week that there was a “very strong possibility” of more terrorist bombings.

Scotland Yard and MI5 say there may be more “bomb factories”. However, officers admit that they have no idea which suspects could be planning the next attacks so they are deploying the sniper squads as an emergency measure.

A member of S019, Scotland Yard’s elite firearms unit, said: “These units are trained to deal with any eventuality. Since the London bombs they have been deployed to look at certain people.”

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