More than 200 UK-based terrorists are currently plotting to carry out suicide bombing attacks in Britain and are likely to strike during next year’s London Olympics intelligence chiefs have warned.
Government ministers have been briefed on the threat by senior intelligence officers from MI5 and MI6 who claim the figure is a ‘conservative estimate’.
The information is said to be part of a secret government report on the enduring threat from Al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist organisations
It is estimated there are 2000 extremists based in Britain currently planning some kind of terrorist activity.
Despite the recent deaths of Al- Qaeda chiefs Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awalki, security services say the organisation remains as dangerous a threat as ever.
Intelligence chiefs say there is little the authorities can do to prevent a well-organised attack by a terrorist cell.
One intelligence officer told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘We may have only had one ‘successful’ suicide attack in Britain but the tactic remains an enduring threat.
‘This is a generational problem we are facing. The terrorists are learning all the time and adapting their tactics. They now operate a cell structure and there security is very tight.
‘Suicide bombers know the signs we will be looking for. So they don’t pray in the moments before an attack, there will be no heavy coats in summer and they are becoming much more security aware.
‘For every countermeasure we develop they create a new ‘measure’.
‘They will always be looking for our exposed flank.’
MI5 has described next year’s Olympics as the biggest security operation in Britain’s history.
It is feared extremists will avoid targeting the sporting venues where security will be high and instead attack public areas like tube and train stations.
Security experts believe they may adopt the deadly tactic used in foreign countries where explosive vests are packed with hundreds of ball-bearings and detonated in crowded areas.
It is estimated that by using this tactic a bomber could kill up to 20 people in a suicide attack.
On 7 July 2005 52 people were killed and over 700 injured when four British terrorists detonated suicide bombs on the London underground and a double-decker bus.
The bombs used were homemade, peroxide-based devices which had been packed into rucksacks.
Two weeks later a second series of bombings on the London transport network failed when only the detonators of the home-made explosives went off.
Muktar Ibrahim, 29, Yassin Omar, 26, Ramzi Mohammed, 25, and Hussain Osman, 28, were found guilty of conspiracy to murder and were each sentenced to a minimum of 40 years’ imprisonment.
Documents published by the WikiLeaks website suggested MI6 officers are now bracing themselves for a further wave of suicide bombings.
One report, which quotes a security officer’s briefing to U.S. intelligence services, reads: ‘The internal threat is growing more dangerous because some extremists are conducting non-lethal training without ever leaving the country.
‘Should these extremists then decide to become suicide operatives.. intelligence resources, eaves dropping and surveillance would be hard pressed to find them on any radar screen.’
Two weeks ago six men for Birmingham were remanded in custody over an alleged suicide bombing plot.
Two of the men, Irfan Nasser and Irfan Khalid have been accused of planning to make home-made explosives and stating their intentions to be suicide bombers.
They are also accused of travelling to Pakistan to receive training, making martyrdom videos and plotting a bombing campaign.