UK facing most severe terror threat ever, warns MI5 chief

Article reproduced from The Guardian, 18.10.2017
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/17/uk-most-severe-terror-threat-ever-mi5-islamist

Britain is facing its most severe ever terrorist threat and fresh attacks in the country are inevitable, according to the head of Britain’s normally secretive domestic intelligence service in a rare public speech.

Andrew Parker, the director general of MI5, said the UK had seen “a dramatic upshift in the threat” from Islamist terrorism this year, reflecting attacks that have taken place in Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge.

The spy chief said: “That threat is multi-dimensional, evolving rapidly and operating at a scale and pace we’ve not seen before.”

He added: “It’s at the highest tempo I have seen in my 34-year career. Today there is more terrorist activity, coming at us more quickly, and it can be harder to detect.”

MI5 is under pressure to demonstrate its effectiveness after four Islamist terrorist attacks escaped its detection this year.

Parker’s speech to specialist security journalists on Tuesday was his chance to frame the debate about Britain’s battle against Islamist terrorism at a time when the agency’s staff numbers are already expanding from 4,000 to 5,000.

This month the government will receive reports on whether chances to thwart the atrocities were missed and what lessons could be learned. Ministers and the National Security Council wanted independent oversight of the review,  in essence not allowing MI5 or counter-terrorism police to assess themselves. Oversight is being provided by the barrister David Anderson QC, a former government appointment as independent reviewer of terrorism legislation.

Parker said MI5 had stopped far more terror plots than those that caused mass casualties this year. He said 20 plots had been thwarted in the last four years.

Seven plots had been stopped before jihadists could strike in the last seven months alone, Parker added. “The threat is more diverse than I’ve ever known. Plots developed here in the UK, but plots directed from overseas as well. Plots online. Complex scheming and also crude stabbings; lengthy planning but also spontaneous attacks. Extremists of all ages, gender and backgrounds, united only by the toxic ideology of violent victory that drives them.”

The flurry of Islamist attacks this year claimed 36 lives. As well as the atrocities at WestminsterManchester and London Bridge a bomb was left on a tube train at Parsons Green, west London, but failed to fully explode. On top of that was the Finsbury Park attack, which is blamed on an extreme rightwing motivation.

Parker added that military defeat in Syria and Iraq for Islamic State did not mean its threat would wane. “Meanwhile, Daesh [Isis] itself is under military pressure and is rapidly losing ground in its heartland in Syria and Iraq. So much so that it’s now advising would-be fighters to choose other countries … At the same time the Daesh brand has taken root in some other countries where areas of low governance give it space to grow.”

He said 100 Britons were believed to have died fighting for Isis and fresh danger was posed by the potential return of 850 more who had travelled to its territory, although a large influx had not yet materialised.

Asked if a future attack in the UK was inevitable, Parker said: “I think we have to be careful that we don’t find ourselves being held to some sort of perfect standard of 100% because that just isn’t achievable.” He said it was likely attacks would occur.

The formal terrorism threat level remains at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely. Twice this year it has been raised to its maximum level, meaning an attack could be imminent, after the Manchester and Parsons Green attacks. In both cases there were fears among officials that suspects or bomb related materials could be at large.

Amid concerns that Brexit could damage security cooperation, Parker said working with European partners remained crucial to MI5’s mission. “We share intelligence. We run joint operations. Every single day.”

Parker said that as technology advances, social media companies have an “ethical responsibility” to do more to help suppress terrorism. He warned that “an unintended side-effect is that these advances also aid the terrorists, whether it’s the ease of online purchasing, social media content or encrypted communications. No company wants to provide terrorists with explosive precursors.

“Social media platforms don’t want to host bomb making videos. And communications providers don’t want to provide the means of terrorist planning, beyond the sight of MI5.”

Multiculturalism Is Splintering the West

Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author who has published this fascinating article for The Gatestone Institute.

The article refers to “increasingly permanent chain of ‘suspended communities’ nesting within nations throughout the West”, as described by the American historian Andrew Michta. “The emergence of these enclaves, reinforced by elite policies of multiculturalism, group identity politics, and the deconstruction of Western heritage, has contributed to the fracturing of Western European nations”.

Giulio Meotti goes on to give an example of this by referring to the suburbs of Gennevilliers in France, where the Charlie Hebdo attackers came from, and the Birmingham suburb of Sparkbrook  that has ‘produced one tenth of England’s jihadists’ and continues:

‘There, Burqas and beards mean something. Dressing has always symbolized loyalty to a lifestyle, a civilization. When Mustafa Kemal Atatürk abolished the Caliphate in Turkey, he forbade beards for men and veils for women. The proliferation of Islamic symbols in Europe’s ghettos now demarcates the separation of these suburbs. The new leader of England’s UK Independence Party (UKIP), Henry Bolton, recently said that the Britain is “buried” by Islam and “swamped” by multiculturalism.’

An interesting phenomenon has been the upsurge in support of political figures like Geert Wilders in The Netherlands and the AfD party – Alternative for Germany. Meotti makes specific reference to the huge unpopularity of Angela Merkel’s  fatal decision to open the doors to over a million refugees and migrants:

‘Beatrix von Storch, an AfD leader, said to the BBC that “Islam does not belong in Germany”. She explained that it is one thing to allow Muslims privately to preach their Islamic faith, but another to appease political Islam, which is trying to change German democracy and society.

The article can be viewed in full here: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/11118/multiculturalism-separation-secession