London: Britain’s security agencies and anti-terror police are monitoring around 3,000 UK-based extremists of dreaded Islamic state militant group, ready to carry out attacks in the county, according to media reports. British men and women, many in their teens, are being radicalised to the point of violence within weeks, security sources told ‘The Times’.
Although more than half of Islamists on terrorist watch lists live in London, especially in the capital’s east and west, there are other hotspots in the southeast, West Midlands and Manchester, the paper reported. The new analysis of terror activity suggests that the number of violent suspects being monitored has risen by more than 50 per cent since 2007, when the security agencies had a list of 2,000 people seen as active supporters of Al Qaeda.
The number has surged in the past two years with the rise of Islamic State in Syria. Most of those under suspicion have never been to Syria but have fallen under the influence of the organisation’s online propaganda.
Around 1,000 Britons are thought to have joined jihadist groups in Syria, 300 have returned and 70 have been killed fighting in Syria and Iraq since 2011. The scale of the UK-based threat was also highlighted yesterday by MI5 director-general Andrew Parker who said intelligence officials had foiled six plots in the past year.
Parker told BBC: “Most of the people who try to become involved in terrorism in this country are people who were born and brought up here, have come through our education system, and have nonetheless concluded that the country — their home country and the country of their birth — is their enemy.”