Daily Mirror, October 17, 2017.
Britain’s top spy master has warned the threat of terrorism on our streets is likely to get worse.
MI5 Director General Andrew Parker highlighted the chilling Islamic State threat by warning: “The threat now means operations are at a scale and a pace we have not seen before.
“We have seen a dramatic upshift in terror threats that are higher than at any other time in my 34 year career.”
And the veteran intelligence officer added: “We have not yet reached the high water mark.”
Speaking to reporters at a secret location in Central London, Cambridge University-educated Parker, 55, said his officers have smashed 20 potentially deadly attacks against the UK in four years.
Seven of those attacks, ranging from random stabbings to sophisticated bombings, had been foiled just in the past 12 months.
He confirmed there were record numbers of terrorism-related arrests, 379 so far by June this year, with 500 live MI5 counter-terror operations underway at any one time.
Those MI5 investigations involve around 3,000 people linked to suspected Islamist terror plots in Britain, some of whom have returned from Syria or Iraq.
And those terrifying plots range from lone-wolf knife-men to potential mass casualty assaults using explosives.
He said: “In 2017 with all that has happened and much that has not, it is clear that we are contending with an intense UK terrorist threat from Islamist extremists.
“That threat is multi- dimensional, evolving rapidly and operating at a scale and pace we’ve not seen before.
“But so too is our response.”
Parker added: “As well as those we are looking at today there is risk from returnees from Iraq and Syria and also the growing pool of 20,000 individuals that we have looked at in the past.
“And there will be violent extremists not yet known to us. Today there is more terrorism activity coming at us more quickly and it can be harder to detect.
“Islamist terrorism is an acute and enduring challenge.”
Speaking in his fourth year as Director General of Britain’s Security Service, Parker explained that the style of attack we are facing varies enormously.
MI5 has almost doubled in size since the 9-11 attacks, forced to embrace the new Islamist terror threat.
It is now 4,000 strong in employees, including spies and support staff but that figure will soar to 5,000 “over the next couple of years.”
Some attacks being plotted are low-tech and take little planning, similar to the murder of British soldier Fusilier Lee Rigby who was murdered in south London in 2013.
He was run over and stabbed repeatedly by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, southeast London.
Both men are now behind bars.
But Parker, who is MI5’s 17th Director General, stressed that some of the plots are highly organised and involve detailed planning, whilst some just take a matter of days.
He said: “The threat is evolving rapidly. The threat is more diverse than we have ever known. Plots vary from complex scheming to crude stabbings.”
And he warned that the “toxic ideology of ideological hatred” could drive terrorist killers towards adopting “crude but lethal attack methods.”
Using the Arab nickname for Islamic State he said the increased threat: “…is driven by Daesh ’s murderous strategy and online propaganda.
“Daesh directing mass casualty plots. Daesh encouraging particular extremists in the UK to kill.
“Daesh inspiring attacks generally by lone actors or small groups or anyone who will listen to their poisonous message.”
And he said the frequency of attacks was inspiring further copycat atrocities, sparking a self-perpetuating nightmare of terror threats.
He explained: “Terrorism breeds terrorism. Would-be attackers take encouragement from the acts of others and can be galvanised into taking action themselves.
“Acts of violence become normalised in their twisted way of thinking.”
This year alone Britain has suffered a string of attacks, varying in degrees of sophistication.
In March Khalid Masood drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before stabbing to death a police officer, resulting in the death of himself and five others…..