U.S. anti-terrorist squads to assist at Olympics

FILE - This is a Aug. 18, 2011 file photo released by Britain's Ministry of Defence shows Royal Air Force Puma helicopter is pictured flying over the 2012 Olympic Stadium during a training flight over London . Fighter jets thunder above the English countryside. Missiles stand ready. And Big Brother is watching like never before. The London Olympics are no ordinary games _ and Britain is no ordinary host. Not since World War II have Britain and the United States teamed up for such a massive security operation on British soil, and not without reason. (AP Photo/SAC Phil Major RAF, MOD) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
AP Photo

(CBS/AP) Hundreds of American intelligence, security and law enforcement officials are flying across the Atlantic these days in the biggest U.S.-U.K. security operation on British soil since World War II.

Some Americans will even be embedded with their British counterparts during the Olympic Games , sharing critical intelligence and troubleshooting potential risks. Dozens of Interpol officers will also be deployed.

The unusual collaboration is rooted in common threats the partners have faced since the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the U.S. and Britain's own deadly suicide bombings in 2005.

Special section: The London Olympics

Britain was America's closest ally in Afghanistan and Iraq, making it a prime target of Islamic terror groups. And dozens of recent terror plots, including the 2006 plot to blow up nearly a dozen trans-Atlantic airliners, have been hatched within Britain's sizeable Muslim population, more than 1 million of whom have ties to Pakistan.

Although other Olympics have taken place since 9/11 - Salt Lake City, Athens, Turin, Beijing and Vancouver - London poses a different breed of security challenge.

"I'm confident that there is more than adequate security here for these games," Louis Susman, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.K., told The Associated Press. "That said, we live in a tumultuous world, whether that be in New York or London."

Intelligence officials say there has been an expected increase in chatter among extremist groups but there are still no specific or credible threats to the London games. The terror level is labeled substantial, a notch below severe and what it has been for much of the past decade. A substantial threat level indicates that an attack is a strong possibility.

The potential threats to the London games are broad and diverse: a lone wolf attacker such as Norway's Anders Behring Breivik who confessed to killing 77 people; a possible non-Asian Muslim convert who could slip by security with a European passport; a coordinated strike like the Sept. 11 terror attacks or a debilitating cyber-attack.

Although al-Qaida has been weakened by targeted U.S. strikes, its affiliates in places like Somalia and Yemen have stepped up their activity and increased their capabilities. They've even been working on bombs that can go undetected in airport scans.

The overall security numbers are staggering. The Games will be protected by some 12,000 police officers during peak times and 23,700 security staff, a number that includes some 13,500 troops on standby, which is more than the 9,500 British troops currently in Afghanistan.

Here are some of the security procedures being planned:

  • A no-fly zone will also be established over Olympic venues from July 14 to Aug. 15.
  • The more than 100,000 people who have applied for jobs at Olympics venues are being vetted for employment history and possible criminal backgrounds.
  • Special Israeli surveillance technology has been rolled out for the Olympics across Britain, a country already known for its 4 million closed-circuit television cameras.
  • Advanced facial and image recognition software will be used to identify suspects and connect multiple crime scenes.
  • Cameras will be used to capture suspicious behavior.
  • Special drones will be used for crowd surveillance.
  • Authorities, using advanced technology, will also be able to stop a vehicle remotely or keep it going at a certain speed.
  • Surface-to-air missiles, RAF Typhoon combat aircraft will be available and an aircraft carrier will be docked on the Thames