The terror threat in the United Kingdom continues to grow with more than 20,000 people investigated for possible terror ties, the head of the domestic intelligence service warned Tuesday.
Andrew Parker, the director general of MI5, warned that the threat from Islamist terrorists is evolving at a pace he has not seen during his 34 years at the agency. Over the past four years, 20 attacks have been foiled in the country and more than one terror-related arrest is on average recorded every day.
“In 2017, with all that has happened and much that has not, it is clear that we are contending with an intense UK terrorist threat from Islamist extremists,” Parker said during a rare public speech. “That threat is multi-dimensional, evolving rapidly, and operating at a scale and pace we’ve not seen before.”
Three major terror attacks have taken place in the country since March. Of the 379 arrests in the country during a 12-month period ending in June, 12 are related to the Westminster attack in March, 23 are connected to the bombing at Manchester Arena in May and 21 were made after the London Bridge attack in June.
“Attacks will occur sometimes because this is a free society, a liberal democracy, and we do not monitor everybody all the time,” Parker said. “Nor would we want to live in a country that was like that.”
The number of people arrested on suspicion of jihadi activities in the European Union nearly doubled in two years, according to a report released in June by European police agency Europol. At least 718 jihadi suspects were detained on the continent in 2016 — up from 395 in 2014.
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