UK terror plot foiled by spies in the last three weeks

At the end of October the head of MI5 said six planned attacks had been thwarted but Downing Street says that figure has since risen to seven

Matt Dathan
Online political reporter
Monday 16 November 2015 13:17 GMT
Members of the emergency services take part in a major counter-terrorism exercise in London earlier this year
Members of the emergency services take part in a major counter-terrorism exercise in London earlier this year (PA)

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A terror plot has been foiled in the UK in the last two weeks, it has emerged.

At the end of October the head of MI5 Andrew Parker said six planned attacks had been thwarted in the past 12 months but today Downing Street said that figure had risen to seven.

Earlier in the day David Cameron told the Today programme that seven plots had been foiled in the last six months, but his spokesman later clarified that the time frame was actually the last 12 months.

Number 10 refused to give details of the foiled plot so it is not known if there is any connection with last week's raid by counter terrorism police which saw four men arrested in cities across the UK as part of a Europe-wide operation to shut down an Islamist terror group that was allegedly planning to target British diplomats.

The North East Counter-Terrorism Unit led the arrests of the four UK-based suspects, who were detained in Hull, Derby, Birmingham and Sheffield, in an Italian-led operation against Rawti Shax, a Kurdish-Sunni group with links to Al Qaeda.

Security in the UK has been stepped up to its highest level since the 7/7 London bombings in the wake of Friday's devestating attacks in Paris, which killed 129 people.

Last month Mr Parker warned that Isis has attempted six "mass casualty" terror attacks in the past year and will continue to plan more.

The Director General of MI5 claimed that the threat to Britain is now higher than at any point in his 32-year career.

"It may not yet have reached the high water mark and, despite the successes we have had, we can never be confident of stopping everything," he said.

"We are seeing plots against the UK directed by terrorists in Syria; enabled through contacts with terrorists in Syria; and inspired online by [Isis'] sophisticated exploitation of technology."

The Prime Minister hinted this morning that plans to give spying agencies more powers could be fast-tracked through Parliament following the attacks in Paris.

"We should look at the timetable; we do need to take Parliament and people with us,” Mr Cameron told the Today programme.

The Prime Minister's spokesman later said Mr Cameron would be "happy to review" the timetable of the Investigatory Powers Bill, which would require web and phone companies to store records of websites visited by every internet user for 12 months for access by UK authorities.

He also told Brits to "show resolve" and to carry on with life as normal, adding: “What these terrorists want to do is to change our way of life and to destroy our way of life."

Mr Cameron said he would be prepared to take his children to watch the England v France friendly match at Wembley on Tuesday night, which is going ahead despite initial expectations that it would be cancelled due to the terror attacks in Paris, which included three suicide bombs outside the Stade de France where France were playing Germany.

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