British jihadis plan to blow up the Queen next weekend at an event to mark the anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that police and MI5 are involved in a frantic race against time to thwart the assassination plot being orchestrated from Syria by Islamic State commanders.
The extremists aim to strike on Saturday by exploding a deadly pressure cooker bomb during events in Central London to mark the 70th anniversary of VJ Day – Victory in Japan.
Such an attack, if successful, would cause high casualties and represent the realisation of long-held fears of a terror ‘spectacular’ by home-based Muslim extremists.
Bomb plot: The extremists aim to strike on Saturday by exploding a deadly pressure cooker bomb during events in Central London
Sources have told this newspaper that a specific threat was made against the Queen, triggering an urgent review of security arrangements for next weekend’s events.
Other members of the Royal Family, including Prince Charles, who is identified in intelligence reports as another possible target, are also due to attend.
They will join Prime Minister David Cameron, assorted dignitaries, more than 1,000 veterans of the Far East campaign and their families, and serving members of the Armed Forces.
And with thousands of members of the public expected to line the streets around Whitehall and Westminster Abbey, police fear enormous potential for carnage.
The plot is understood to involve a device similar to that used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing which killed three people and injured more than 260.
In the UK’s most deadly terror attack of recent years – the July 7 London bombings – 52 people were killed and more than 700 injured when four suicide bombers struck on Tube trains and a bus in Central London in 2005.
Typically, having been warned about next week’s planned attack, the Queen indicated her determination to attend the event to ‘honour the fallen’.
Senior members of Scotland Yard’s Royal Protection branch, SO14, have been informed, along with SO1 Specialist Protection, the unit responsible for the security of the Prime Minister and any dignitaries considered to be ‘under threat from terrorist attack’.
The Home Office has also been made aware of the plot.
On Saturday, the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh – a veteran of the war in the Pacific – will first attend a service at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square. From there dignitaries will move to Horse Guards Parade for a traditional military ‘drumhead’ service, a flypast and a wreath-laying ceremony before the set-piece VJ Day parade of veterans and current troops down Whitehall to Westminster Abbey.
All the events will be broadcast live on television by the BBC.
While hundreds of IS converts have left UK for Syria and Iraq over the past two years, others have been urged to remain in the UK and launch attacks on home soil.
Although The Mail on Sunday understands that no arrests have been made, counter-terrorism officers are monitoring the plot’s development.
Sources claim that a specific threat was made against the Queen, triggering an urgent review of security for next weekend’s events
Some intelligence reports suggest that the 2pm drumhead service in Horse Guards Parade, just half a mile from Downing Street, might be a specific target.
Led by the Bishop to HM Armed Forces, the Right Reverend Nigel Stock, it will see drums draped with military colours used in place of an altar to replicate services held on the field of battle during the war.
The Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945 – less than a week after the United States dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – brought the Second World War to its conclusion.
Veterans due to attend the VJ Day parade said yesterday that tight security measures had already been put in place ahead of next Saturday.
They have been told they must provide photographic identification to obtain tickets. For similar events in the past this has never been a stipulation.
Two months ago, a series of terror manuals providing step-by-step instructions on how to launch ‘lone wolf’ attacks on the UK and the West were circulated online. They gave detailed advice on bomb-making, assassinations and firearms techniques similar to those deployed by terrorists during attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France.
After the Tunisian beach massacre, in which 38 tourists died, Mr Cameron spoke of the ‘serious threat’ of an attack on home soil. Although there have not been any successful terror attacks in Britain since Lee Rigby was killed outside Woolwich Barracks in May 2013, intelligence chiefs have foiled a number of plots.
Last November, police stopped an alleged plan to launch an attack on Remembrance Sunday after arresting four men in London and High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.
Last month, police chiefs warned officers not to wear their uniforms to and from work as Islamic terrorists were looking to target officers.
In a separate development this newspaper can disclose that British Special Forces are watching migrants in Calais and Dover to detain IS terrorists attempting to enter Britain.
Buckingham Palace spokesman said of the terror plot: ‘It is not something we would comment on.’ A Scotland Yard spokesman declined to comment.
MOS EXPOSÉ IS PROOF IS THREAT HAS COME TO UK: PLOT SHOWS THAT FROM THEIR BATTLEFIELD, ISIS’ OWN COMMANDERS ARE ALSO DIRECTING ATROCITIES TO TAKE PLACE ON BRITISH SOIL
On the day Britain commemorates the end of one long and bloody war, Islamic State terrorists hoped to begin a new one. The detailed and specific plot to bomb this week’s Victory over Japan Day celebrations is the clearest and most chilling evidence yet of the threat posed to this country by the murderous extremists based in Syria and Iraq.
Police and security services are known to be fearful of young Britons travelling to fight in the Middle East and Africa gaining experience on the frontline, then returning home to use it with deadly effect. But the plot revealed by The Mail on Sunday shows that from their battlefields, IS’s own commanders are also directing atrocities to take place on British soil.
Islamist preachers and warlords based in Raqqa, Syria, can easily speak to impressionable youths in London using internet phone applications such as Skype or text chat programs such as WhatsApp.
While hundreds of IS converts have left for Syria and Iraq over the past two years, others have been urged to remain in the UK and launch attacks on home soil
These services are often encrypted, making it difficult for the intelligence services to crack them – hence the Government’s desperate desire to rush in more sweeping surveillance powers.
The VJ Day plot has all the hallmarks of a modern Islamist spectacular. Adherents to the twisted cult are particularly obsessed by the idea of killing soldiers or police officers in public.
Fusilier Lee Rigby was hacked to death outside his barracks in South-East London two years ago. Last month a 15-year-old from Blackburn became Britain’s youngest convicted terrorist when he admitted urging a fellow IS supporter to attack an Anzac Day parade in Australia. IS also claimed to be the inspiration for two attacks in Canada last year – one in which a police officer was run down and another in which a soldier was shot dead.
IS fanatics would also love to strike at the Royal Family. Four men were arrested by anti-terrorism police just before last year’s Remembrance Day ceremony amid fears of an alleged plot to kill the Queen at the Cenotaph.
IS terrorists are feared to be better trained than those behind failed plots of recent years. It is also aware that a single armed man can cause just as much damage, as can a homemade pressure-cooker explosive used in the Boston Marathon atrocity, the type of device intended for the VJ Day attack.
The threat to this country is constantly kept under review by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, based on MI5’s understanding of possible plots. And although chief constables discussed increasing it to the highest level of ‘critical’ – meaning an attack is imminent – in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings in France, it remains one notch lower at ‘severe’.
As this newspaper disclosed, police and military chiefs have also drawn up secret plans for the deployment of troops in the event of multiple terrorist strikes. Codenamed Operation Temperer, the plans would see as many as 5,000 heavily armed soldiers put on the streets to keep key sites safe.
And the authorities recently tested their preparedness in a major two-day operation called Exercise Strong Tower involving more than 1,000 police officers.
However, senior counter-terrorism figures believe it is a matter of when, not if, an attack succeeds in Britain and this latest plot is unlikely to be the last.