Two men who tried to abduct an RAF serviceman at knifepoint while he was out jogging close to his base in Norfolk may have been seen conducting a reconnaissance mission days earlier.
A villager told ITV Anglia he saw men of Middle Eastern appearance in a green Ford Galaxy speeding away from RAF Marham three days before the attack last Wednesday.
The vehicle had been traveling so fast that it nearly crashed into him on July 17, he said.
“They nearly ran me off the road. If I had not taken emergency avoiding action, there would have been an accident.
“That is why I particularly noted it. It looked suspicious. They were certainly in a hurry to get out of the way. They were drawing a lot of attention to themselves due to the manner of their driving.”
The unnamed serviceman targeted in the attack, who is in his late 20s and is believed to be a non-commissioned officer in the RAF Regiment, told police two men tried to bundle him into a dark-coloured people carrier that may have been a Ford Galaxy.
He told police one of the men grabbed his wrist and shoulder and tried to force him into the car, but he fought back and knocked him to the ground.
The second man who had a “military-style” knife with a 3-inch black blade then approached him before going to help his friend.
The serviceman, who was not wearing armed services clothing, fled while the two men drove off in the opposite direction.
Detectives believe the suspects may have been waiting for a victim, as the incident happened on a popular running route for personnel from the base.
The base is home to Tornado GR4 bombers flying missions against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in the Middle East.
Norfolk police say it is “increasingly likely” the two men involved in the attempted abduction were part of a larger team.
“While the victim only witnessed two attackers, there may have been more than two people in the vehicle and given the nature of the attack, it is likely they were part of a larger team,” Detective Superintendent Paul Durham told the Independent.
“This is important because I do not want to deter any potential witnesses from coming forward. It is the vehicle we are interested in, regardless of the number of people seen inside.”
Police are appealing to anyone who saw anything suspicious in the Marham or King’s Lynn area around the time of the assault.
Detectives have yet to establish whether the motive was terrorism or another crime.