June 29, 2007

London Terror Threat

An explosive-laden green metallic Mercedes crashed into a garbage dumpster near the Tiger Tiger nightclub about 2AM (London time) and the driver ran from the car. Eyewitnesses alerted police. Police found a "massive" explosive device comprised of two propane tanks and a large number of nails. Explosives experts de-armed the device.

The device was apparently set to detonate in London's theater and nightclub district in the west end of the city. The area is customarily packed with thousands of people throughout most of the day. Nearby is Piccadilly Circus.

Times Online:

A massive manhunt for the driver of the Haymarket vehicle was under way, with police trawling through CCTV footage from last night. Congestion charge cameras situated throughout central London are also capable of tracking where the car came from, and which routes it took.

Terror groups like al-Qaeda are believed to have been planning attacks on nightclubs, which are considered by Islamic fundamentalists to be symbols of Western decadence.

The Mercedes has been impounded and authorities believe it to be a forensics gold mine. London Metro Police have scheduled a press briefing later this morning.

From Metropolitan Police Briefing (0715 EDT):

Peter Clarke, Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Scotland Yard:

1) Incident began with notification from an ambulance crew of a parked car (pic) suspiciously emitting smoke. Ambulance crew had responded to a different emergency.

2) Police investigated and found cans of gasoline, propane gas canisters, and a large number of nuts and bolts. Police called explosives officers.

3) Explosives officers manually disarmed the device. Area cordoned off. Vehicle impounded.

4) Target not known. Peter Clarke stated that they had no counterterrorism intelligence prior to the incident.

5) Metro Police is appealing to the public for information.

Metro Police continue to investigate. Notably, a large quantity of CCTV footage is being reviewed.

In a followup report, a security source said the operating mechanism in the explosive device is similar to IED's found in Iraq.

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