Britons warned of decades of terror as ‘cultish’ followers of extremism widen

Britons warned of decades of terror as ‘cultish’ followers of extremism widen
Emergency services staff provide evacuate a victim of a terror attack near the Houses of Parliament in London on March 22, 2017. Britain’s former top spymaster has warned the country could face the threat of Islamist terror for another “20 to 30 years.” (AP file photo)
Updated 12 August 2017

Britons warned of decades of terror as ‘cultish’ followers of extremism widen

Britons warned of decades of terror as ‘cultish’ followers of extremism widen

LONDON: Britain’s former top spymaster has warned the country could face the threat of Islamist terror for another “20 to 30 years.”
This comes as one of London’s top police chiefs spoke of an extraordinary threat from the “cultish” followers of Daesh that could only be tackled with the support of communities.
Ex-MI5 boss Jonathan Evans told BBC’s Radio 4 program that it was a “generational problem.”
“My guess is that we will still be dealing with the long tail in over 20 years’ time,” said Lord Evans.
“I think we are going to be facing 20 to 30 years of terrorist threat and therefore, we need, absolutely critically, to persevere.”
The UK has been rocked by a string of terror attacks this year that started in Westminster on March 22 and was followed by others in Manchester and on London Bridge.
”Since 2013, there have been 19 attempted attacks that have been disrupted, and even since the attack at Westminster, we are told there have been six disruptions, so this is a permanent state of preparedness,” added Lord Evans.
He joined the MI5 branch which deals with international terrorism, known as G-Branch, in 1991, and by the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, was leading the section.
His remarks come as new figures show the number of potential extremists flagged by the British public have doubled since the start of this year’s attacks.
Police received about 200 referrals to the Prevent program between April and July — double the number received in the previous four-month period. The program aims to protect vulnerable individuals at risk of radicalization and looks to community leaders to provide intelligence.
Emily Winterbotham, a senior research fellow at the Rusi Institute, said that such programs reflect the increased efforts being made by security services in the UK both to prevent, prepare for, and respond to attacks.
“Threats we are facing in the imminent future include the rise of individual attacks by lone actors. In particular if we think about activity in Syria and Iraq decreasing with fewer people traveling there, we have to ask what repercussions will that have in the UK and Europe more generally,” she told Arab News.
Senior police and counter-terrorism officers say that more help from the community is needed to prevent future attacks. Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said that Britain was facing an extraordinary and increasing threat from “cultish” followers of Daesh and other extremist groups.
He told the BBC Radio’s Today program that threat was also becoming broader — from lone wolf attacks to others directed from overseas.
“The change in tempo is quite dramatic. Over a few months, we had four successful attacks and at the same time, stopped six more plots. That illustrates the scale of the challenge.
“This widening cohort of people that we are concerned about, our ability to keep our radar on them – that’s no longer just a job for the police and security service, it’s going to take a whole community effect.”