London – British security services have foiled 13 potential terror attacks since 2013, according to a senior counter-terrorism official.
Assistant commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police Mark Rowley said the problem lies in the fact that many incidents are inspired by ISIS, while al-Qaeda remains a significant threat and the far-right is also an issue.
Rowley was speaking at the launch of a campaign to promote community involvement in combating terrorism. He revealed that information from the public helped in one-third of the most high-risk investigations.
“Together, the UK intelligence community and police have disrupted 13 UK terrorist attack plots since June 2013,” Rowley said.
The assistant commissioner warned that the threat is becoming more varied and moving towards low-tech attacks on crowded places, like those seen in major European cities and beyond.
He stressed that it is very important for everyone to remain vigilant.
“We’ve got over 500 investigations at any one stage,” indicated Rowley.
A study from the conservative Henry Jackson Society found Islamic-inspired terror offences almost doubled, from 12 each year between 1998 and 2010 to 23 each year in the following five years.
Analysis of 269 crimes of this kind revealed that most assailants are British or dual citizenship carriers, many of whom are Muslims.
Between 1998 and 2015, women were 4% of the executors while the percentage became 11% between 2011 and 2015.
The threat level for international terrorism in Britain has been “severe”, meaning an attack is considered highly likely, since August 2014.
The assistant commissioner also revealed that during that period there were more than 500 live counter-terror investigations at any time.
He pointed out that since the murder of Lee Rigby in May 2013, police and intelligence agencies have disrupted 13 terrorist attack plots. During his previous statement, Rowley said that the police foiled 12 attack plots, meaning there was only one plot since October.
Rowley commended the contribution of British society and help in reporting any suspicious acts.
The anti-terrorist hotline received more than twice the number of calls in the previous 12 months, with 22,000 people making contact.
Rowley said: “Even though the public are doing a great job, we want more help.”
A poll of more than 2,000 adults found that most respondents believed it was important for communities to work with police to defeat terrorism.
Rowley said that defeating ISIS militarily will not abolish terrorism.
Rowley said police faced a range of threats and challenges, including encrypted communication methods, propaganda and various possible attack methods.
“Now we worry about everything from fairly simple attacks with knives or using vehicles, all the way through to the more complex firearms attacks,” he said.
He did admit that this makes the police’s job difficult.