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UK's terror threat is rising again


There have been 39 foiled terror plots in Britain over the past five years with the threat of an attack 'once again rising', a new report has warned.


In an update to the Government's counter-terror strategy, known as CONTEST, it was revealed the UK is averaging almost eight attempted attacks per year.

The Home Office document found home-grown terrorists were now 'less predictable' and 'harder to detect and investigate'.

It also warned of a 'persistent and evolving threat' from foreign-based Islamist terror groups and a 'risk' to counter-terror efforts from advancing technology.

Despite the decline of Islamic State and al-Qaeda in their traditional territories in recent years, the 70-page report stated both groups 'continue to seek to plan and enable attacks' in Britain.

'We therefore judge that the risk from terrorism is once again rising,' it added.

The CONTEST strategy was last updated in 2018, when Theresa May was prime minister, in the wake of the major terror attacks in London and Manchester.

In a foreword to the new update, Home Secretary Suella Braverman acknowledged the terror threat was 'unrelenting and evolving'.

'Since we last published CONTEST in 2018, we have seen nine declared terrorist attacks, and 39 disrupted attacks – averaging almost eight attempted attacks per year,' she wrote.

'It is also increasingly unpredictable, making it harder to detect and investigate.

'We therefore judge that the risk is rising – and I will continue to do everything within my power to disrupt and curtail this threat.'

Over the past five years, there were also nine declared terror attacks in Britain that killed six people and injured 20, while 24 UK nationals were killed in 11 attacks overseas.

The report added that the primary threat is from Islamist extremism, which accounted for 67 per cent of attacks since 2018, around 75 per cent of MI5 caseload and 64 per cent of those in custody for terrorism.

There is also a risk posed by terrorists after they are released from prison, with some offenders needing monitoring for decades, the updated CONTEST strategy said.

As of March 2023 there were 232 people in custody for terror offences in the UK.

The report said: 'Those convicted of terrorism or a related offence may continue to pose a threat; four of the nine declared terrorist attacks in the UK since 2018 were perpetrated by serving or recently released prisoners.

'Individuals convicted of non-terrorism offences may also hold a terrorist mindset or develop one during their time in prison.'

As well as an attack in Whitemoor prison, atrocities in Reading, Fishmongers Hall in the City of London and Streatham in south-east London were carried out by men with previous convictions.

Officials believe the second half of this year will be particularly demanding in terms of the number of prisoners deemed to pose a risk in terms of terrorism who are due for release.