UK warns of two more years of severe terror threat
London, Jun 3: The UK government today warned of at least two more years of severe terrorism threat to the country as it prepares to unveil tougher new measures to monitor terror suspects.
UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid is set to announce a range of steps aimed at strengthening the powers available to security agencies to prevent attacks, from Islamist as well as extreme right-wing terror groups.
“In summary, we expect the threat from Islamist terrorism to remain at its current, heightened level for at least the next two years, and that it may increase further,” the UK Home Office said ahead of the announcement on Monday.
“We assess the threat from extreme right-wing terrorism is growing. Globally, terrorist groups and networks of all ideologies continue to develop organically, exploiting social media, technology and science to further their aims and ambitions,” it added.
As part of the new package of counter-terrorism measures, British terror suspects will be monitored more closely and convicted terrorists given longer prison sentences.
Technology companies will be called on to do more to tackle extremist content posted online, while new powers will be introduced to fast-track terror suspects to jail before they have finalised any plans for an attack.
Javid is also expected to announce a new approach to targeting the growing threat of right-wing extremism.
His keynote speech follows a review of the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy, known as Contest, and coincides with the anniversary of the Islamic State claimed vehicle and knife attack in London Bridge and Borough Market areas of the British capital on June 3 last year.
The attack involved three attackers led by Pakistani-origin terror suspect Khuram Butt going on a rampage killing eight people and injuring 48 others before being shot by police.
Javid, who attended a memorial service on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the attack, said: “In May we mourned with Manchester. Today we remember the shocking attack on London Bridge and Borough Market.
“The government is absolutely committed to doing everything possible to tackle the terrorist threat. It is my first priority every day in this job.
“We are working with the police, intelligence and security agencies, the private and public sector and international partners to make sure we have the best plans in place. I will be speaking about those plans in detail tomorrow [Monday] when we publish our strengthened counter-terrorism strategy.
“But ultimately the strongest response is not just what we do, but who we are. The best way to stop terrorists achieving their aims is to stand by our values of tolerance, fairness and go about our lives.”
According to official estimates, MI5 and counter-terrorism police are currently running more than 500 live operations involving roughly 3,000 “subjects of interest” at any one time.
It has been revealed earlier that Britain’s security services foiled 12 Islamist and four extreme right-wing plots since March last year.
However, more than 20,000 people who have previously been investigated and categorised as a “closed subject of interest” could still pose a threat, officials warn.
The strategy to be launched on Monday is expected to set out plans for MI5, Britain’s internal security service, to share its intelligence more widely and work with partners such as local authorities on how best to manage the risk posed by closed subjects of interest.
It emerged last year that MI5 had made a commitment to allow knowledge derived from intelligence to be shared more widely beyond intelligence circles.