London, United Kingdom (TFC) – As you’d expect, Parliament has a lot of security including screening and police officers armed with G-13s. But that doesn’t mean Parliament couldn’t become a target for the next terrorist attack. Here are six ways ISIS could attack Parliament.
1. Liquid bombs. A liquid bomb plot at Heathrow Airport was foiled in 2006, which indicates that terrorists previously used this tactic in London, so may well use it again. In the House of Lords, one of Parliament’s two legislative chambers, bottled water is not allowed. However, handbags are allowed in the public gallery and are not searched. A liquid bomb could be concealed in a handbag and simply kicked or rolled through the curtain which adorns the lower part of the House of Lords’ public gallery. The same applies to throwing acid or pouring petrol over the railing then throwing down a match.There is no police presence in the public gallery (if there are plain-clothes police, they are too far away to stop such an act).
2. Mass attack. There are no security measures which would stop terrorists gaining access to the public gallery in several groups. As there is no time limit for watching debates, terrorists could arrive in different groups over a few hours until the public gallery is packed with terrorists. Even if all they did was jump from the gallery and land on top of, or use physical violence against, politicians, the psychological impact on the public would be huge, especially as Lords debates are televised. Terrorism is largely about inducing public fear, so this would be a relevant tactic even if nobody was killed or even seriously injured.
3. Cameras. There are a few cameras permanently affixed to the edge of the public gallery. If they were to fall, they could obviously cause serious injury. All ISIS would have to do is get one of their members into a job in Parliament- assisting an MP, cleaning, anything which would allow them to access the public gallery. ISIS could alternatively bribe existing employees. Using a hacksaw (which could be hidden in a closet or desk drawer so it only has to be waved through once) they could weaken the metal which suspends the camera in place. Working at night or when the gallery is empty, they could do this incrementally, until the camera falls of its own accord. Or if the terrorist/bribed person didn’t mind being caught, the final cut could be performed during a debate to ensure the camera actually falls onto somebody.
4. Light fixtures. These hang from the ceiling. Unlike the cameras, they require a ladder to reach. Carrying a stepladder would make a terrorist conspicuous as unlike a small saw, it cannot be concealed within bags or clothing. However it may still be possible if the terrorist claimed s/he was fixing the light or had been requested to bring a stepladder. S/he could also dress as an electrician.
5. Knives. The Parliament’s security detects metal objects and even Swiss Army knives (penknives) are not allowed inside. However there’s no reason knives have to be made of metal. Our ancestors brought down woolly mammoths with stone spears. Now, security may well confiscate sharp wooden or stone objects as well, but this isn’t clear. A wood or stone knife could be used to stab politicians as they enter or leave the House of Commons, or simply thrown from the public gallery in the House of Lords.
6. Blunt instruments. If the instrument isn’t made of metal, and especially is shaped to look like a book, flask, etc, then it may well pass through screening. It could then be thrown from the public gallery.
Luckily, most of these scenarios would only work in the House of Lords, as the Commons has more security, including the installation of glass in the public gallery after Tony Blair had powder thrown at him. However no amount of security is ever foolproof and we shouldn’t assume ISIS couldn’t commit a terrorist act in Parliament.