The Britain defense ministry says the Olympic missile, capable of shooting down a hijacked aircraft from the Fred Wigg Tower rooftop, are a key piece in the elaborate jigsaw of a $1 billion security bill in London.
However, many residents of the east London public housing project were dismayed to find themselves suddenly on the counterterrorism front line, according to Reuters.
“It’s kind of scary now, to be honest,” said Iqbal Hossain, who lives in the building with his wife and three children aged 2 to 14. “If it’s about safety for the Olympics, what about safety for us? If there is a terrorist attack, the first thing they are going to attack is the missiles.”
A High Court judge rejected that argument Tuesday, quashing a challenge by locals. Judge Charles Haddon-Cave said the missiles presented “no real threat” to residents and were a necessary part of Olympic security.
The missiles will be installed within days on the 17-story tower, one of six sites around London where surface-to-air missiles will be stationed as part of a vast security operation for games that run through Aug. 12.
It’s all part of a ring of steel protecting the games, which officials acknowledge are a tempting target for terrorists.
The security operation includes 7,500 soldiers, thousands of police and 13,200 private security guards, as well as RAF fighter jets on standby at nearby air bases and a helicopter carrier moored on the River Thames.
Defense Secretary Philip Hammond has said the precautions are intended to provide “both reassurance and a powerful deterrent.”
Londoners have long lived with the threat of terrorism. Since the 1970s, the city has seen deadly attacks by Irish militants, by a far-right extremist who targeted gay people and ethnic minorities, and by al-Qaida-inspired suicide bombers who killed 52 commuters on the transit system in July 2005.
Britain’s official terror threat level stands at substantial, the middle point on a five-point scale, indicating an attack is a strong possibility. Still, the ranking is lower than it has been for much of the time since the July 2005 attacks.
Intelligence officials say there has been an expected increase in chatter among extremist groups ahead of the Olympics but they have uncovered no specific or credible threats to the games.