Britain facing most ‘intense’ terror threat ever, MI5 boss warns

Tuesday, October 17, 2017
By Paul Martin

THE head of MI5 has warned that Britain is facing an unprecedented terror threat, with security services at risk of being overwhelmed by “more terrorist activity coming at us, more quickly”.

Tue, Oct 17, 2017

Andrew Parker said he had never seen counter terrorism operations working at such speeds in his 34 years at the UK intelligence agency.

He added that 20 planned attacks on British soil had been foiled in the past four years, seven of them in the past seven months.

All of them had been masterminded by Islamic extremists, he said.

The prolifacy of the plots meant it was becoming “harder to detect” every attack being planned.

MI5 staff were also “deeply affected” whenever an attack is carried out, Mr Parker told an audience in London.

“They get up and come to work every single day to make terrorist attacks less likely and to keep the country safe,” he said of his staff.

“They are constantly making tough professional judgements based on fragments of intelligence; pinpricks of light against a dark and shifting canvas.

There have been five terror attacks on the UK this year so far, killing 36 people in total.

In his first substantial remarks since those attacks, Mr Parker detailed the “acute and enduring” challenge posed by Islamist terrorism.

He also issued a fresh challenge to technology firms, saying they have an “ethical responsibility” to help governments confront the threat.

“We’ve seen a dramatic up-shift in threat this year,” he said.

“Today there is more terrorist activity, it’s coming at us more quickly and it can be harder to detect.”

He highlighted the “short life” of some attack plans, which he claimed could escalate from conception to violence within a matter of days.

He also explained how extremists can exploit “safe spaces” online, making the task of disrupting their activities harder.

When asked directly whether Google, Facebook and Amazon were doing enough to prevent communications among militants, he said: “There is a reasonable expectation, I think, from all of us but also from the public at large that these companies would do what they can to help us deal with these worst excesses.”

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