UK’s primary domestic terror threat is from Islamist terrorism: Report

London: The primary domestic terrorist threat to the UK comes from Islamist terrorism even as explicit affiliation to terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State is making way for wider online extremist influences, according to a new British government report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

‘CONTEST: The United Kingdom’s Strategy for Countering Terrorism 2023’ was presented to the House of Commons by Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who highlighted the report’s findings of a “persistent and evolving” threat to the country from Islamist groups overseas.

The Indian-origin minister said her department will use the updated version of the report to adopt a more agile and aligned approach to counter the terrorist threat.

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“We judge that the risk from terrorism is rising, and we must do everything within our power to reduce it,” said Braverman in a written statement to the Commons.

“Since the last version of CONTEST was published in 2018, nine terrorist attacks have been declared in the UK, in which six people died and 20 people were injured. Overseas, 24 UK nationals have been killed in 11 terrorist attacks. The majority of these attacks were Islamist in nature,” she said.

The minister told Parliament that the latest report sets out a need to respond to a domestic terrorist threat which is “less predictable and harder to detect and investigate, a persistent and evolving threat from Islamist groups overseas, and an operating environment where accelerating advances in technology provide both opportunity and risk to our counter-terrorism efforts”.

“It also includes a greater focus on the pivotal role of ideology in encouraging extremism Through this updated strategy, and by taking a more agile, integrated and aligned approach, we will do everything within our power to keep the public safe,” she said.

The report warns that groups affiliated with Al Qaeda and Islamic State, referred to as Daesh, now operate with relative freedom in more territory than ever before and have in some cases been “re-energised” by the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan two years ago.

“In the UK, the primary domestic terrorist threat comes from Islamist terrorism, which accounts for approximately 67 per cent of attacks since 2018, about three quarters of MI5 caseload and 64 per cent of those in custody for terrorism-connected offences,” the report states.

“Within Islamist terrorism in the UK, explicit affiliation and fixed ideological alignment with any one specific international terrorist organisation is diminishing. The relative decline in profiles of al-Qa’ida and, to a lesser extent, Daesh, the absence of mass-appeal individuals linked to these groups, and the continuing societal shift to an online world have led to issues and grievances from a wider range of sources becoming ideological influences and drivers,” it notes.

The remainder of the UK domestic terrorist threat is driven by what is termed in the report as Extreme Right-Wing Terrorism (ERWT), which amounts to approximately 22 per cent of attacks since 2018, about a quarter of MI5 caseload and 28 per cent of those in custody for terrorism connected offences.

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