The ideological clash that is "terrorism" is the defining element of the current century. So what is the likelihood London will be the scene of a terror attack?
In July 2005, London was shaken by bombings in three underground trains at King‘s Cross station, a bus and other areas, which resulted in 52 deaths. Four men, three British nationals of Pakistani background and a Jamaican, were behind the attacks - all died.
Since the 2005 attacks, Londoners have been a bit skittish around public transport, and changes have been made to underground stations, such as the removal of rubbish bins. People get twitchy around airports too, and it‘s not just security officials…. Everyone is keeping an eye out for suspicious activity (their life might depend on it), so don‘t leave bags unattended anywhere in the country.
For similar security reasons, the UK Department for Transport sometimes changes its rules on the types of luggage you can carry on planes and other modes of transportation.
The country was on edge again in December 2010, after incidents which included a suicide bombing in Stockholm, Sweden and an alleged plan for a shooting spree in Copenhagen, Denmark, which involved men who had been living near London. Nine men were later accused of conspiracy to bomb several spots in London like the Stock Exchange and U.S. Embassy around Christmas.
English police went on high alert early in 2011 after intelligence revealed some terrorist cells could be planning attacks in London‘s transportation centers.
In 2013 a British soldier returning to barracks was attacked and brutally murdered by two men operating as a 'lone wolf' pack. Lee Rigby was run down by his assailants then stabbed and hacked to death.
Jump ahead to 2017 and the deadliest terror attack since 2005 has claimed 22 lives. A nail bomb was detonated by a suicide bomber at a pop concert in Manchester. Most of the dead and injured are teenagers. One victim was 8 years old.
Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those killed or injured in this cowardly attack on innocent people. We will continue to urge travellers to use caution wherever they go, but also hold true to our belief that travel can change the world for the better. The exchange of ideas, and being able to see we are all just human beings, can only enhance understanding and promote peace.
Since the attacks of 9/11 in the United States, and Mumbai in 2011 there has been a move away from mass, coordinated attacks and a rise of small cell, or 'lone wolf' terror attacks.
This type of operation was responsible for the attacks in Paris in 2015 and Brussels in 2016. A smaller operating group with no formal links to a larger organisation makes the killers harder to detect... and the the fear this culd happen anywhere at anytime more terrifying.
London's police and anti-terror authorities have identified this type of attack as the most likely to occur.
As tragic as the Manchester events is, the implications on travel to the United Kingdom and Europe remain unchanged. Sadly this is the new normal. It came only 2 months after the Westminster attack in London, and security authorities report they are investigating and thwarting potential attacks on a weekly basis. It is impossible to predict where or when the next one will occur.
But the fact remains the chances of being involved in a terror event are extremely small. According to a 2011 report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the average American is many, many times more likely to be killed in a vehicle accident as they are to be killed by a terrorist.
The UK is at the same risk of terror attack today as it was before Manchester, we’re just more aware of it today, feeling the hurt and the fear.
Read this: How do you decide if it’s safe to go?
The London police have asked all citizens and visitors to play their part in helping maintain security, and implore you to be on the look out for, and to report suspicious activity, such as:
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