Britain’s Terror Nightmare
According to a top counter-terrorism official, Britain’s security service is dealing with 500 live counter-terrorism investigations. The volume and nature of the cases are overwhelming the departments tasked with protecting the public.
Mark Rowley, assistant commissioner of Scotland Yard, revealed the figures on March 6, as he launched an appeal called “Action Counters Terrorism” seeking the public’s help in thwarting attacks.
As part of the Action Counters Terrorism campaign, a podcast has been produced revealing previously untold stories of how terrorist attacks on UK soil were prevented, featuring accounts from detectives, bomb disposal and surveillance officers.
Rowley said the aim of releasing new material was to provide insight into how terrorists might prepare in advance of an attack as well as to foster more confidence for the public to report any suspicions. Additionally, television advertisements portraying a variety of scenarios have been launched appealing for members of the public to report any suspicious activity they encounter.
Speaking to Sky News, Rowley described the public’s past contribution to foiling plots as “extraordinary.” In fact, figures show information obtained from public ‘tips’ have assisted counter-terrorism police in a third of the most high-risk investigations, leading Rowley to declare, “It is my belief that without the public’s help, some of the terror plots which we’ve foiled would have been successful.”
Rowley said the complexity of the terror threat is greater than ever before – and that the lorry attacks in Berlin and Nice last year were “game changers”.
“The stretch is enormous,” he said. “You have got this range from, on the one hand, the more sophisticated plots we’ve seen with ghastly consequences on the continent, through to individuals or pairs who are radicalized largely by propaganda on the internet and look to pick up knives and carry out fairly unsophisticated attacks.”
“Covering that range is very difficult and that’s why we’re appealing to the public. Often we have an incomplete piece to the jigsaw that is our investigation and sometimes it is that extra piece of information from the public that makes the difference.”
Counter-terrorism investigators have been making arrests at a rate of close to one a day since 2014, as the official threat level for international terrorism has stood at “severe” – meaning an attack is highly likely – for more than two years.
The podcast will reveal the plans of some 13 foiled potential terror attacks in the UK since June 2013 and what activity tipped investigators off. Some of the thwarted plots were similar in scale to the Paris and Brussels attacks. To access the ACT podcasts, go to: win.heart.co.uk/act/