July 7, 2009 / 1:54 AM / 10 years ago

Police fear "spectacular" neo-Nazi attack

LONDON (Reuters) - Police chiefs fear right-wing groups are plotting a “spectacular” attack in Britain to fuel racial hatred, the Guardian reported on its website on Monday.

The paper quoted Shaun Sawyer, a commander at Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist branch, as saying senior officers had increased surveillance of suspects to monitor their ability to carry out a deadly attack.

“I fear that they will have a spectacular ... They will carry out an attack that will lead to a loss of life or injury to a community somewhere,” he said, referring to the danger from far-right groups.

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said the statements made by Sawyer and reported by the paper were accurate. She declined further comment.

Sawyer had been speaking at a meeting of British Muslims at the Muslim Safety Forum which advises the police on race issues.

He told the meeting last Wednesday that more of his officers needed to be deployed to try and thwart neo-Nazi inspired violence but that the threat posed by al Qaeda remained the unit’s priority.

He said of the unit’s section on far-right activities : “It is a small desk ... We need to grow that unit.”

Sawyer said Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, had asked the anti-terrorist command to examine what the economic downturn would mean for far-right violence.

The assessment concluded that it would increase the possibility, he said.

In 1999, neo-Nazi David Copeland struck three targets in London with nail bombs.

Three people were killed and scores were wounded at a gay bar in Soho. It followed attacks against the Muslim community in Brick Lane, east London, and a market in Brixton.

Reporting by Stefano Ambrogi

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