UK authorities urge public vigilance in face of Christmas terror threat


LONDON: British authorities have foiled seven late-stage terror plots over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show, prompting police to urge public vigilance during the holiday season.

A total of 32 late-stage terror plots have been foiled in the last four years, Counter Terrorism Policing told Sky News.

Since March 2017, 18 attacks related to Islamist extremism have been disrupted, 12 linked to right-wing extremism and two to left-wing, anarchist or “single-issue terrorism.”

The UK has been rocked by two high-profile incidents in the last few months: One in which MP David Amess was murdered by an Islamist, and another in which a suicide bomber detonated his vest outside a Liverpool children’s hospital, killing himself only.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, senior national coordinator for the CTP, said the public would be “well aware of the fact that the UK has suffered two terror attacks in quick succession, with the national threat level raising to severe — meaning an attack is highly likely.

“All of this combines to paint a picture of a sustained and high-tempo threat, which our world-class police, security and intelligence services are doing everything in their power to combat.”

He said people “need to be vigilant” and “alert,” and cooperation between the police and the public is “vital.”

Police have also sounded the alarm over the rising number of children being arrested for terror offenses.

Home Office figures showed that the number of people committing terror offenses fell across the board for all groups, whether right-wing, Islamist or other — apart from children.

In the 12 months leading up to Sept. 30, 2021, a total of 25 children were detained for terror crimes — eight more than the preceding year. Children accounted for 13 percent of all terror-related arrests.

Haydon expressed concern that children are “becoming an increasing proportion of our arrests” in light of the figures, “but it doesn’t have to be this way. Ideally, we would identify when a young person is being led down the path towards terrorism activity and use the Prevent program to try and put them on a different path.”