SAS ‘task force’ will shoot to kill

Daily Star Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - ■ by PA­TRICK WILLIAMS

ARMED spe­cial forces troops are be­ing de­ployed on Lon­don’s Tube net­work with or­ders to kill ter­ror­ists at­tempt­ing to carry out mass ca­su­alty at­tacks.

A task force com­pris­ing covert sur­veil­lance ex­perts from the Spe­cial Re­con­nais­sance Reg­i­ment and mem­bers of the SAS has been trained to tar­get ter­ror­ists on air­craft, buses and trains.

Male and fe­male troops will travel in pairs dis­guised as cou­ples to mon­i­tor any sus­pi­cious pas­sen­gers.

The un­der­cover teams will be armed with Glock 9mm semi-au­to­matic pis­tols to “take down” gun­men and sui­cide bombers with head shots.

The sol­diers are ex­perts in close-quar­ters killing tech­niques af­ter spend­ing months in train­ing at the SAS base in Hereford.

Mock-ups of trains, air­craft and buses were used so they could be pre­pared for a wide va­ri­ety of at­tacks.

Teams have also been is­sued with “soft-nose” bul­lets which will not pass through a body when fired at close range, lim­it­ing the risk to other pas­sen­gers.

The unit was formed af­ter Bri­tish spies learned that an at­tack on the Lon­don Un­der­ground was likely.

The move, which was planned prior to Fri­day’s bomb at­tack, was ap­proved last month by a White­hall counter-ter­ror­ist cell com­posed of mem­bers of MI5, MI6, se­nior civil ser­vants and mil­i­tary chiefs. Sources have told the Daily Star Sun­day that some of Fri­day’s Tube bomb ter­ror cell may have been mem­bers of so-called Is­lamic State who have left Syria in re­cent months to carry on their fight in the UK.

MI5 be­lieves up to 300 fa­nat­ics have re­turned from Syria and Iraq over the past few months and many are com­mit­ted to wag­ing a cam­paign of ter­ror in Bri­tain.

It is also feared that hard­ened IS fight­ers could come back to the UK and train a new wave of Bri­tish-born ji­hadis in bomb-mak­ing tech­niques and ter­ror­ist tac­tics.

One source said: “The task force is com­posed of some of the most ex­pe­ri­enced spe­cial forces per­son­nel in the Army.

“The unit is com­posed of both male and fe­male per­son­nel from the Spe­cial Re­con­nais­sance Reg­i­ment who are trained killers and can pose as cou­ples while trav­el­ling on public trans­port.

“They are trained in rapid-fire tech­niques which in­volve emp­ty­ing a mag­a­zine of bul­lets into a sus­pect’s head and face in a mat­ter of sec­onds.

“It’s the only way of pre­vent­ing a sui­cide bomber from det­o­nat­ing a de­vice. What we saw on Fri­day could just be the be­gin­ning of a se­ries of at­tacks on the Bri­tish trans­port net­work.

“This bomb failed to det­o­nate but we may not be so lucky in the fu­ture.”

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