The British warned of an “increased” threat of terrorism during the World Cup in Qatar

Caption: Security in Qatar – Is there a threat of terror? (Image: Getty)

Security personnel from countries around the world providing resources to secure the FIFA World Cup have arrived in Qatar (Image: Getty)

British fans have been warned terrorists would ‘likely’ try to target the World Cup in Qatar – although security experts say the risk of a full-scale attack is low.

Qatari authorities are expected to put intense surveillance on crowds and individuals as an estimated 1.2 million international visitors descend on the Gulf emirate for FIFA matches.

The United Kingdom is among the participating nations, providing military resources, security personnel and other types of support to the hosts.

The UK government’s travel advice now states: “Terrorists will likely attempt to carry out attacks in Qatar. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners.’

However, two analysts told Metro.co.uk that an internationally backed security blanket will make a sophisticated attack unlikely in the oil-rich state, where the first game begins today.

Security expert Will Geddes said: “Qatar is a reasonably safe place as it’s a small country and it’s pretty easy to control that environment.

“Not only do the Qataris have their internal security, but they have brought in US and British security advisers and personnel for support.

“One thing that can be said about Qatar is that they can throw money at security, which makes it very difficult for anyone to pull off an attack with any level of sophistication. They will obviously be keenly aware of the fact that they are now in the world spotlight when they have long strived to be the equivalent of Dubai. If they get it wrong, it won’t help them raise their profile.’

International relief efforts include the United Kingdom, which is contracting three Royal Navy ships to patrol sea lanes around the Gulf state, searching for bombs and mines. The MoD also provides advanced training in venue searching, mission planning support and RAF air patrol through the joint Typhoon squadron. The anti-terrorist airborne element falls under an existing partnership between the two countries

As part of a security pact, 13 nations, including France, Turkey and the US, have sent a series of broadcasts of support. Ankara has pledged to send riot police, sniffer dogs and bomb disposal experts to the games where Qatar will play Ecuador in the opening game at the 60,000-seat Al Bayt Stadium.

Pakistan has deployed 4,500 troops as security, with the first detachment arriving last month.

Security guards stand at the entrance of the France national soccer team's hotel prior to the players' arrival in Doha November 16, 2022 ahead of the Qatar 2022 soccer World Cup tournament. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

Security guards stand at the entrance of a hotel in Doha where the French national team is staying at the World Cup (Image: Franck Fife/AFP)

The US has also taken extensive precautions, with Washington’s diplomatic security service saying it has “numerous special agents and analysts” based at a joint operations center in Qatar’s capital, Doha.

Qatar’s own preparations included a five-day security drill held last month, following three-day drills in November 2021.

According to Qatari authorities, experts from all 13 nations, including Britain, have been involved in the recent preparedness drills.

A central command center was established to coordinate and oversee security operations, including in the eight stadiums.

“Authorities will monitor crowds, including covert surveillance of behavior and indicators,” Mr Geddes said.

“They’re going to have a lot of technology that they already have and have brought in specifically for the WM process.

“This will cut across the board, from monitoring CCTV cameras to communications networks. Expect this to be the most closely monitored World Cup ever.”

@qatarliving

Qatar Tournament Security Police. Security forces will ensure the safety of all participants in the 2022 World Cup, including national teams, fans and visitors. The goal of the security forces is to make the tournament the safest of all sporting events in history. ستعم قوة ا ا طوطوطو فترة ا ضم س س ا المش تكون البطو ا أم ت ا ا ا ا ا ا ا ا ا ا ا ا ا ا ا ا ا ا ا ا اenseضية #qatar #qatarlife

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The UK government’s security recommendation for Qatar refers to terrorist “statements” threatening to attack Western interests in the Gulf region, including residential areas and public spaces such as restaurants, hotels, beaches and shopping malls.

Travelers are told: “You should maintain a high level of safety awareness and vigilance, particularly at significant high-profile events such as the World Cup, and report anything suspicious to local authorities.

“Avoid large demonstrations. There is an increased global threat of terrorist attacks against British interests and British nationals by groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria.’

No specific information is given about the threats, but monitoring groups have reported malicious gossip between terrorist groups and their supporters.

IZMIR, TURKEY - OCTOBER 21: Qatari Police participate in a training program at Foca Gendarmerie Commando School and Training Center in Izmir, Turkey on October 21, 2019. At the request of the Qatar Internal Security Command, a group from the Qatar Police Force prepared for the World Cup with hands-on training in a course coordinated by Turkey's Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) (Photo by Halil Fidan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Qatari riot police take part in a World Cup training program in Turkey (Image: Halil Fidan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, earlier this month a pro-ISIS Telegram channel shared a series of posts encouraging supporters to use violent and biological attacks at the World Cup.

According to the monitoring group, one of the embassies described the event as a “golden opportunity” for retaliation against the countries that defeated the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

The Ultrascan AGI research project said it picked up conversations in the Haqqani network, a key stakeholder among the Taliban, that were discussing attacks on Western interests.

The international monitoring group said the network acted within its own interests as the Taliban sought to improve foreign relations because it neither benefited from international funding nor was part of the militants’ Doha liaison office.

The chatter concerned attacks by al-Qaeda and ISIS on targets at the World Cup, including buses, trains and hotel food courts, according to Ultrascan. The threat level has increased since Nov. 17, the researchers said, with one note referring to a “big party” that ended in gunfire and explosions.

Toilet

A Qatar security chief said security arrangements for the World Cup would make the games safe and secure (Picture Getty/Reuters)

Video clips and social media posts – including a long convoy of security forces vehicles flashing blue lights – suggest the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East is getting underway amid tight security.

Hans-Jakob Schindler of New York think tank The Counter Extremism Project told Metro.co.uk that a large-scale attack was unlikely due to the coordinated approach to security.

Mr Schindler said: “Every country that hosts this type of event has the same challenges and these differ in no way, shape or form from Qatar. Services from the various nations have been working in the run-up to the World Cup for the past four years, including setting up surveillance systems.

“One can never say that nothing will happen as there will always be the unpredictable possibility that a radicalised, lone actor will carry out an immature attack, for example by taking a knife from a shelf and going out and attacking people.

“This type of attack happened in Melbourne, Australia in 2018 when a police-known terrorist stabbed a person.

“But as far as a big attack that makes headlines, the risk is very small. There’s just too much that depends on the Qatari government and they have fairly effective international cooperation systems in place to prevent that from happening.’

Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al-Thani, the emirate’s security chief, told Qatar News Agency that the country “is home to highly qualified and trained police and security skills and can ensure the security of the FIFA World Cup”.

Referring to international cooperation between security forces, Mr. Al-Thani said, “Our common goal is security excellence.”

Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact josh.layton@metro.co.uk

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/11/20/brits-warned-of-heightened-terror-threat-during-qatar-world-cup-17785639/ The British warned of an "increased" threat of terrorism during the World Cup in Qatar

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