U.K.: Government Trains Malls in Counterterrorism

By Matthew Harwood

After numerous attempts to attack shopping malls in the United Kingdom, Britain's National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) trains shopping centers and other similar public venues on how to prepare for a terrorist attack, according to the Telegraph.

Security correspondent Duncan Gardham reports shopping centers have been targeted by terrorists three times in the last four years.

The reason terrorists choose public places like shopping malls to attack is self-evident.

"Crowded places, including shopping centres, are likely to feature in the attack plans of terrorist organisations in the future as they are usually locations with limited protective security measures and therefore afford the potential for mass fatalities and casualties,"  warns NaCTSO.

NaCTSO is a police unit co-located with the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, a government authority that provides protective security advice to businesses and organizations. One of the police unit's responsibilities is to help businesses protect crowded places. Each organization recognizes al Qaeda as the most dire threat facing the United Kingdom. 

The Telegraph also reports that MI-5, Britain's domestic intelligence agency, has created a program, Operation Lightening, "to record, research and investigate suspicious activity and it is particularly focused on the 'hostile reconnaissance' of targets."

In the article, Gardham describes how a possible terrorism attack last year at a shopping mall was averted by recognizing the signs of hostile reconnaissance.

♦ Photo of Blue Water Shopping Centre in Kent, United Kingdom, by davepatten/Flickr


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