Britain’s counter-terrorism chief has warned that the United Kingdom could face an “enormous and spectacular attack” from Islamic State militants.
As Islamic State militants broaden their efforts to disrupt life in the West, Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley has warned that larger and more damaging attacks are the next logical step for the Islamic State, especially following the Paris terror attacks last year that killed 129 people and wounded many more.
— The Independent (@Independent) March 7, 2016
As more evidence of the existence of Islamic State militants within Europe is uncovered, Rowley said, “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.”
The Inquisitr reported last week that the Spanish National Police had seized three containers at port cities in that country, two in Valencia and one in Algeciras, containing 20,000 uniforms and other military gear destined for ISIS and al-Nusra Front militants.
The military uniforms had been hidden within second-hand clothing, and according to the police, the amount of military equipment found was enough to equip an army of Islamic State terrorists.
Speaking at a briefing in London, Rowley said that ISIS is currently attempting to slip militants trained in Syria into Europe to conduct terror attacks within the bloc.
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) March 7, 2016
According to Rowley, terror-related arrests throughout the U.K. totaled a record number of 339 during 2015. According to him, the number of arrests has risen by 57 percent over the previous three years and that around half of those arrests led to charges.
Reportedly, in 2015, 77 percent of those arrested on terror charges were British nationals, of which 14 percent were female and 13 percent were under the age of 21. According to Rowley, the number of females being caught and arrested has grown markedly in recent years, and he said this was not a situation seen a few years ago.
“That is an indication of that radicalization, the effect of the propaganda and the way the messages… are resonating with some individuals.”
According to a report by the Daily Mail, Scotland Yard and MI5 have foiled three terror plots in London in just the last few months.
While terror attacks have been foiled and arrests made, Rowley sees the Islamic State as working towards much broader attacks in Europe. According to him, the terror group has big ambitions for “enormous and spectacular attacks,” rather than the types of attack they have foiled to date.
“You see a terrorist group that whilst on the one hand has been acting as a cult to use propaganda to radicalize people to act in their name… you also see them trying to build bigger attacks.”
Scotland Yard has reportedly seen more than 20 families and around 50 young people facing family court proceedings over concerns of radicalization in the past year.
According to BBC News, around 800 people have left the U.K. to fight in Syria or Iraq, and the problem is that they cannot be charged with a crime for wanting to leave the country.
Reportedly, when these people return to the U.K., officials assess them, but only a few will be subject to substantial surveillance and then only if intelligence suggests they could be an immediate threat.
Due to this, Rowley said the use of psychologists is becoming the standard operating procedure. He said that psychologists have been brought into the counter terrorism effort amid concerns that people with mental health issues could possibly become prime targets for the Islamic State propaganda. According to Rowley, having that insight is critical to their efforts.
On the subject of a potential Islamic State attack in London, after the Paris terror attacks, the Metropolitan police reportedly carried out a major exercise in the city to “stress test” how it could respond to attacks such as those experienced in Paris.
Many buildings in London are now reportedly surrounded by bollards designed to withstand truck bombs and CCTV, and number plate cameras are widespread in the city. There are also specialized armed police who have been trained to a military standard carrying out daily patrols in the city.