Armed soldiers were deployed to patrol the streets of the United Kingdom following an announcement by Prime Minister Theresa May that the country’s threat level had been elevated from “severe” to “critical,” the highest level possible. As May herself noted in an address to the nation following an emergency Cobra meeting with her cabinet, British intelligence services have reason to believe that another attack may be imminent.
“[I]t is a possibility we cannot ignore that there is a wider group of individuals linked to this incident,” said the prime minister. “The police have asked for authorisation from the secretary of state for defence to deploy a number of military personnel in support of their armed officers.”
The military is tasked with securing vulnerable key sites throughout the country, including concert venues, sports arenas, and government buildings. According to the prime minister, the military will operate under the command of the police.
“This means some armed police officers guarding events will be replaced by soldiers in an operation codenamed Temperer. It is the first time that the operation, which was first revealed in 2015, has been put into effect,” reports The Guardian. “The plan is believed to allow up to 3,800 troops to be deployed in support of the police, replacing armed officers at many sites to free them up for patrols in key areas.”
Already, around 1,000 soldiers have been deployed to major cities across the country. Home Secretary Amber Rudd stated that another 2,800 troops are being deployed to patrol the streets, placing the total at 3,800. Most are tasked with guarding the capital city. Since the Westminster terrorist attack in March, London has been the site of regular police patrols and security reinforcements. But with the latest deployment of troops, London has become a virtual fortress. Parliament will take no visitors or tourists for the time being as police track down Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi’s jihadist associates.
While London may be fortified, other sites appear vulnerable to possible attacks. Indeed, law enforcement personnel in Manchester (where Monday night’s horrific attack occurred), Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle and other major cities have been stretched thin since then-Home Secretary Theresa May announced cuts to police departments. Today, as prime minister, May is promising law enforcement all the resources they may need in a tragic play of irony brought upon by ubiquitous specter of jihad.
Police have already made at least five arrests near Manchester. Working with the United Nations-backed semi-Islamist militia in Libya, British intelligence services have also managed to compel Libyan security forces to detain the suicide bomber’s father and brother in a raid in Tripoli.
Despite a series of successful arrests, Abedi’s terrorist network still looms large. U.K. officials believe that the yet-to-be captured bomb maker behind the explosive device used in the Manchester attack may be planning another attack.