MI5 Director-General Andrew Parker has warned the threat of radical Islamic terrorism in Britain shows “no sign of abating”, with 25 plots foiled since 2013.
Speaking in Berlin in what was the first ever speech by a serving MI5 chief outside the United Kingdom, Parker told European colleagues that the continent faces an “intense, unrelenting, and multidimensional terrorist threat”, noting that the Islamic State continues to pose the most “acute threat” to Western security — but that “al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups haven’t gone away.”
“The sickening impact, shock and disgust of terrorism has been felt right across Europe,” he added, referencing the jihadist knife killer who struck in the French capital “just two days ago”.
“Since 2016, there have now been 45 separate attacks across seven European countries: the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, and Finland have all seen attacks,” he recalled.
“This unprecedented tempo of attack planning shows no sign of abating,” Parker confessed.
“In the UK alone, since the Westminster attack in March last year, with the police we have thwarted a further twelve Islamist terror plots,” he revealed.
“Twelve occasions where we have good reason to believe a terrorist attack would otherwise have taken place in our country,” he repeated, to drive the seriousness of the disrupted plots home.
“That brings the total number of disrupted attacks in the UK since 2013 to 25.”
“This upshift in threat is of course driven by [the Islamic State’s] murderous ideology. While [the Islamic State] has now lost its false caliphate in its strongholds in Syria and Iraq, tackling the group as a movement will require sustained international focus for years to come,” he added.
“As I speak today they are seeking to regroup, and the threat seems likely to persist.”
Fully 23,000 active extremists or former persons of interest are known to be present in the United Kingdom, including hundreds of Islamic State volunteers who have returned to the country from Syria and Iraq — most of whom have not faced prosecution.