Islamic State are planning numerous large scale terrorist attacks against the UK, that is the ominous warning from the head of MI5.
Considering that they are a terrorist group opposed to western culture and values it may not be that surprising that the UK is a target, but the current threat level and number of foiled plots is cause for concern.
The intelligence agency is so concerned with the threat posed by Islamic State that four fifths of its 4000-strong force is currently dedicated to uncovering and halting such attacks.
Andrew Parker, director general of MI5, delivered the unsettling warning during the Lord Mayor of London’s annual defence and security lecture.
Britons are being rapidly radicalised online and then encouraged to carry out low tech but deadly attacks.
On top of that, in a range of attacks in Europe and elsewhere, this year we have seen greater ambition for mass casualty attacks.
All of this means that the threat we are facing today is on a scale and at a tempo that I have not seen before in my career.”
Then, just weeks before the Investigatory Powers Bill AKA the ‘snooper’s charter’ is to be published, came the first official revelation that the agency was indulging in hacking online communications to keep the nation safe.
We have thwarted six attempts at terrorist attacks in the UK in the last year, and several plots overseas.”
This includes the ability to conduct operations online and to mount IT attacks (known as equipment interference), under a warrant authorised by the Home Secretary, against terrorist networks, so that we can access their communications.
We use these tools within a framework of strict safeguards and rigorous oversight, but without them we would not be able to keep the country safe.
As I have said before, we do not, and could not, go browsing at will through the lives of innocent people.”