Israel is denying a report that it is on the lookout for a terrorist group made up of converts to Islam that is planning to attack Israeli targets at the London Olympics.
The Sunday Times UK reported that Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency “is hunting a group of white Europeans who are thought to have converted to Islam and to be working with the Iranian Quds force and Hezbollah, the terrorist group backed by Tehran.”
Fears of a terrorist attack at the Olympics, on the 40th anniversary of the murder of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and in the wake of last week’s attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, have risen in recent weeks and days.
Israel has sent Mossad and Shin Bet agents to London with its Olympic delegation, according to the Sunday Times. The opening ceremonies of the Games are being held Friday.
“There is a particularly distinct alertness both on the operational and intelligence levels for the imminent Olympic Games,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday. “The British security services in particular – who are extremely proficient – are acting to the best of their abilities with the assistance of other intelligence agencies around the world in order to minimize the chances that there will be any sort of incident during the Olympics.
“[This vigilance] is first and foremost because things have happened in the past, things that we all remember at the Munich Olympics. This isn’t the only incident, even though this is the most prominent. We must remain alert.”
Meanwhile, the head of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, reiterated over the weekend that a moment of silence would not be held for those slain at the ‘72 Olympics.
“The opening ceremony is an atmosphere that isn’t fit to remember such tragic events,” he said Saturday during a news conference.
Rogge said, however, that he would lead an official delegation to Munich on Sept. 5 to hold a memorial ceremony at Munich’s Furstenfeldbruck airbase, where a raid by German commandos ended with the deaths of the Israelis being held captive.
Late last week, President Obama expressed his support for a moment of silence and NBC’s Bob Costas said he would hold one on the air during the opening ceremonies.