The City of London Police force was facing criticism last night after including the Occupy London demonstration in a letter warning businesses about potential terrorist threats.
The letter, a "Terrorism/Extremism Update", lists al-Qa'ida, the Colombian dissidents Farc, and Belarusian terrorists who bombed the Minsk underground. It also lists Occupy London under the heading "Domestic".
It states: "It is likely that activists aspire to identify other locations to occupy, especially those they identify with capitalism. City of London Police has received a number of hostile reconnaissance reports concerning individuals who would fit the anti-capitalist profile. All are asked to be vigilant regarding suspected reconnaissance, particularly around empty buildings."
An Occupy London spokesman said: "Activism is not a crime and the desire to participate in democratic decision-making should not be a cause for concern for the police in any free society.
“An institution that confuses active citizens with criminals and equates al-Qa'ida with efforts to reimagine the city is an institution in danger of losing its way."
A police source said the letter was authentic but was poorly worded and never meant to imply demonstrators posed a terrorist threat.
A spokesman for City of London Police said: “City of London Police works with the community to deter and detect terrorist activity and crime in the City in a way that has been identified nationally as good practice. We’ve seen crime linked to protests in recent weeks, notably around groups entering office buildings, and with that in mind we continue to brief key trusted partners on activity linked to protests.”
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