Threat of terrorist attack on British soil rising rapidly because of war in Gaza, MPs told

Intelligence briefings raise concerns about heightened risk of terrorist activity or isolated attack in UK during Ramadan

Shweta Sharma
Sunday 03 March 2024 05:16 GMT
Related: Sunak backs stronger policing of protests in bid to 'tackle extremism'

The threat of a terror attack in the UK is rising due to the war in Gaza, MPs have reportedly been told in security briefings, with intercepted extremist activities said to have reached the highest level since 9/11.

Global terrorist groups have been using Israel’s war in Gaza as a “recruitment advert” and there are concerns this could culminate in violence during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan from next Sunday, MPs were told at the briefing.

There is a “real risk” of coordinated terrorist activity or a lone isolated attack, one insider with knowledge of the briefing told the Daily Mail.

People take part in a Day of Action for Palestine protest in London organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Samuel Montgomery/PA Wire)

The new intelligence warning has come after prime minister Rishi Sunak called out Islamist extremists and far-right groups for spreading the “poison” of extremism in a sharply worded speech outside 10 Downing Street.

He expressed his support for a crackdown on pro-Palestinian demonstrations, telling police “we will back you when you take action” and urging pro-Palestine protesters to reject extremism.

One of the MPs who was aware of the recent intelligence briefing told the Mail: “The level of extremist chatter is off the scale. This is something they’ve seen growing and growing.”

Comparing it to 9/11 in the US, the politician said the spike in hate speech was similar to what was witnessed around the al-Qaeda attack that killed close to 3,000 people.

“It’s like when the Twin Towers came down in 2001, there was a big spike of hate,” the person said, referring to intelligence from the last two weeks.

International anger and condemnation has been rising over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, where the local health ministry says more than 30,000 Palestinians have died during Israeli military operations. Israel launched its ground offensive after the 7 October massacre by Hamas that killed some 1,200 Israelis and saw hundreds taken hostage.

People cry as they mourn while receiving the dead bodies of victims of an Israeli strike on 2 March (Getty Images)

The ground operation has sparked tensions in the US and UK as pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli groups have led protests over the war, demanding stronger responses from their respective governments.

Following Mr Sunak’s speech, the police in London on Saturday used powers to block a pro-Palestine protest. Some of the protesters who marched to Barclays Bank expressed anger at Mr Sunak’s speech linking their protests to extremism.

Raising a signboard that read: “Do I look like an extremist?”, Paul Wood, 64, from Dulwich, called on politicians to witness the protests first-hand.

“These people ought to go on a march and see the sort of people who are on these marches, a lot of whom are Jewish,” he said.

Pro-Palestine protests protest following Rishi Sunak’s warning that democracy is being targeted by extremists (Samuel Montgomery/PA Wire)

“It’s astonishing the rhetoric”, he said, adding: “They know it isn’t true. They are talking to their grassroots faithful to try and stir up division in this country.”

As hopes for an urgent ceasefire in Gaza are rising, Israel is facing mounting international pressure for an investigation of the 112 deaths of Palestinians who were killed as they desperately gathered around an aid convoy.

More than 760 injured were injured in alleged firing by Israeli soldiers and were taken to al-Shifa hospital where doctors said a large number of people had bullet wounds.

Children look for salvageable items amid the rubble of a Mosque destroyed in Israeli strikes in Deir El-Balah in central Gaza (AFP via Getty Images)

The Israeli assault, which aims to eradicate Hamas, has devastated Gaza with much of the Hamas-run enclave laid to waste. Around Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians have been seeking refuge on the border with Egypt, authorities said 25 people were killed on Saturday and into Sunday morning.

They included 11 who died when an Israeli airstrike hit a tent near a hospital and another 14 in one family, who died when a strike hit a house.

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