by Mark Angelides
For the last year, campaigners against Radical Islam have been quoting the figure of 3,000 potential Jihadis currently living in the UK. These people are a mix of native-born and migrants and are believed to be a possible risk in terms of either carrying out or being support networks for terrorist attacks on UK soil. But the latest figures released by a Whitehall source to The Times, show that the real number is in fact more than seven times higher.
The government source say that since 2001, the figure has risen to more than 23,000 potential jihadists currently living and operating in the UK. And the Security Services are all but powerless to do anything about them.
UK authorities have identified 23,000 potential jihadist extremists. The problem is much worse than we first thought. pic.twitter.com/Qu2Ap210kl
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) May 26, 2017
According to RT.com, the Security Services only have the ability and resources to permanently watch 3,000 suspects. They constantly shift the targets watched based upon whether or not they believe they are still a risk (so they lose their position in the top 3,000 and are no longer surveilled). Would it surprise you to know that the two successful terror attacks committed in the UK this year (the Whitehall car attack and the Manchester bombing last week), were both carried out by people who had previously been on the surveilled list, but were considered “former subjects of interest”.
This is not the only time that terror attackers who have been on the watch list have gone on to commit acts of terror. In 2013, a soldier, Lee Rigby, was set upon by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, and beheaded on a busy street in broad daylight. The two killers had been on the list but were deemed no longer a threat.
If government sources are willing to admit to 23,000, the likelihood of it actually being more is very high. If the Security Services have identified 23,000, we can take it as read that there are more that have not yet been identified.
What is abundantly clear is that this method of judgment and surveillance is not working. Yes, there have been numerous terrorist plots foiled in the UK so far this year, but there will be more, and MI5 will not be able to stop them all.
A strategy is needed that actually PREVENTS people not only becoming radicalized, but also stops those that already are from being able to connect with backers and logistics. The terrorist responsible for the Manchester bombings, Salman Abedi, had recently travelled to both Syria and Libya before returning to the UK. Not only this, he is known (by MI5) to have fought alongside his father in Libya with an Al-Qaeda offshoot group against American troops only a few years ago.
Whilst we should never grant or support governments more powers over our liberty, there are several actions that could be taken today to lessen the future threat without infringing people’s rights:
- Ban travel to and from Syria for people who are on the Terrorist watch list
- Suspend passports of anyone who has known terrorist connections and has been engaged in fighting against allied forces
- Take seriously any warnings that are given by Mosques on potential extremists (in the Manchester case, the leader of a local Mosque actually informed the police that he thought Abedi was up to something…no action was taken)
- Segregated prisons for those convicted of Terror offences (many young Muslims and non-Muslims (forcibly converted) become radicalized in prison)
- Automatic deportation for any non-native people convicted of terror offences