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Police Hold Major Terror Attack Exercise in Heathrow Airport’s Disused Terminal 1

Police Hold Major Terror Attack Exercise in Heathrow Airport’s Disused Terminal 1

The Metropolitan Police has put specialist anti-terror teams to the test in a major terror attack drill inside a now-disused terminal at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Armed police, explosive response officers, forensic teams and first responders from the London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade descended upon Heathrow’s derelict Terminal 1 in response to a simulated bomb explosion at the end of November.


For this simulation, the airport terminal was playing the role of a stadium where large numbers of people had been seriously injured after an improvised explosive device detonated during a music concert.

Around 200 people participated in the two-day exercise, which went by the codename Crystal Peak. The scenario was reminiscent of the Manchester Arena bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in 2017 that killed 23 people and left more than 1,000 injured.

Metropolitan Police Commander Ade Adelekan, however, said the exercise wasn’t planned as a result of any specific threat and was part of routine counter terror preparedness.


“Whilst the exercise was not designed with any specific threat in mind, sadly, previous attacks such as those we’ve seen in Manchester and Paris show that this kind of scenario at a busy entertainment venue is a real possibility,” Adelekan said.

“Exercises like this test how our blue-light services respond to this type of incident, ensure the plans we have in place are fit for purpose, and identify where we might improve”.

Heathrow’s Terminal 1 was shuttered in June 2015 and has previously hosted other counter terror drills that specifically looked at the police and emergency response to an airport being bombed and attacked by armed assailants who took passengers hostage.

Terminal 1 was due to be demolished as part of Heathrow’s expansion plans, but the work has been put on hold until a third runway at the congested airport is approved.


A public inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing found that poor communication between the various emergency services seriously hampered the initial response and that lives may have been lost as a result.

The drill at Terminal 1 looked at strategic coordination between various agencies and stress-tested various functions including command and control, intelligence, firearms response, communications, and disaster victim identification.

“The overall terrorism threat level in the UK remains at ‘substantial’,” Commander Adelekan continued. “We know that we cannot afford to let up in our efforts to prevent or thwart terrorist attacks, and equally, to be fully prepared to respond should one happen.”

View Comment (1)
  • I believe LHR T1 hasn’t been demolished yet because the baggage system is still in use by the new T2 next door. Not entirely sure why a new terminal was built dependant on an old terminal baggage system, but it’s a reason I’ve oft heard…

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