Despite the fact that Islamist extremists have only mounted one “successful” attack in Britain – the 7/7 bombings in which 56 people died – the threat of terrors attacks in the UK has not gone away. The official threat level is classed as being “Severe” – this is one down from the highest level, “Critical”, which means an attack is imminent.
Over the last few months, the British have become focused on the economy, falling house prices and the credit crunch, but it should not be forgotten that a significant number of UK citizens have been planning to carry out attacks with the aim of causing mass casualties.
The report leaked to The Sunday Telegraph identifies three areas – London, Birmingham and Luton – which MI5 and Special Branch believe are enclaves or hot beds of terrorist activity, where “some thousands” of extremists committed to supporting Jihadi activities. It is this fact alone which will worry the security services the most.
Each of these areas has sizeable Muslim populations. While the vast majority are peace loving and regard militant Islam as an abomination, some are also in denial about the size of the threat from members of their communities. But it should not be forgotten that Islamist terrorists are members of a covert conspiracy, where even members of there own families have little idea that their sons or daughters have become radicalised.
The Government has attempted to combat the radicalisation of disaffected members of the Muslim community by urging religious leaders to ban Islamist preachers from getting a foothold in mosques.
While this policy has met with some success, this report would suggest that the numbers of young Muslims signing up to al-Qaeda philosophy is growing. Preventing radicalisation is almost an impossible task especially when Britain and a large number of its allies are locked into conflict in Muslim countries. The report also tells us that Islamist groups are still managing to send British nationals, some of whom will be Muslim converts, to fight against British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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