Wednesday 22 November 2017

Britain braced for 'enormous spectacular' attacks from Isil

Police react to a suspicious vehicle near La Carillon restaurant following a series of deadly attacks in Paris.
Police react to a suspicious vehicle near La Carillon restaurant following a series of deadly attacks in Paris.

Michael Wilkinson in London

BRITAIN is facing the threat of "enormous and spectacular attacks" by Isil as the extremist group aims to wage war on Western lifestyles, the UKhead of counter-terrorism has warned.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said that while in the past few years the Islamist group has called on would-be jihadis to attack police and the military, their plots are now broader "plans to attack Western lifestyle".

He said: "In recent months we've seen a broadening of that, much more plans to attack Western lifestyle, and obviously the Paris attacks in November.

And you see a terrorist group which has big ambitions for enormous and spectacular attacks, not just the types that we've seen foiled to date."

"You see a terrorist group that whilst on the one hand has been acting as a cult to use propaganda to radicalise people to act in their name ... you also see them trying to build bigger attacks."

Mr Rowley said the "shared effort to look for any possible links of those networks or other networks that have reached the UK is obviously a massively high priority".

In the last three years the number of arrests of terrorist suspects has risen by 57pc, compared with the previous three years. Around half led to a charge.

Last year, just over three-quarters (77pc) of those arrested were British nationals, 14pc were female and 13pc were aged 20 and under.

The number of girls and women and the number of teenagers is a new trend, Mr Rowley said. "That would not have been the picture that one would have seen a few years ago. That is an indication of that radicalisation, the effect of the propaganda and the way the messages of Daesh (Isil) are resonating with some individuals," he added.

Scotland Yard has seen more than 20 families and around 50 young people go through family court proceedings over concerns about radicalisation in the past year.

Police are beginning to use trained psychologists who can provide advice both about how to deal with those at risk of being influenced by extremists, as well as terrorists in the event of an attack.

The number of trained firearms officers across the UK is also being increased in the wake of the Paris atrocities, which saw 129 people killed in co-ordinated attacks by extremists.

Official advice was issued at the end of last year to "Run, Hide, Tell" if marauding gunmen are found to be on the loose - meaning get as far away as possible, hide, and if possible call the police.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron attended the EU leaders' summit at the European Council in Brussels yesterday. Mr Cameron reiterated his stance that there was "no prospect" of the UK joining an EU quota scheme to divvy up migrants around the bloc.

The policy, to be proposed in papers on March 16 ahead of a summit in Brussels, proposes creating a new quota system to share out asylum claims.

It poses a challenge to Britain because it may replace the 'first country' principle under the Dublin rules, that say asylum seekers must stay, and can be sent back to, the first EU state they reached.

Those rules allow Britain to deport around 1,000 people a year to other EU states.

Mr Cameron did not address the fate of Dublin, but said Britain would not be a part of any new quota scheme.

"Well we have an absolutely rock solid opt-out from these things, so there's no prospect of Britain joining a common asylum process in Europe.

"We'll have our own asylum approach, our own way of doing things, keeping our borders. Again it underlines the best of both worlds, the special status that we have."

And a senior business leader who resigned after being suspended for suggesting the UK could have a brighter future outside the European Union may join the Vote Leave campaign, Boris Johnson has said.

Brexit supporters have claimed that pressure from Downing Street forced John Longworth out of his post as director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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