LONDON – The new security chief of MI5, the UK’s domestic security service, has warned that nearly 30 percent of the major terror plots it has disrupted at a late stage since 2017 have been from far-right extremists.
Ken McCallum said that the pan-European threat from the far-right was increasing with bitty, but meaningful international connectivity.
Ken McCallum said far-right extremism was not on the same scale as Islamist extremist terrorism. But it is growing of the 27 late-stage terrorist attack plots in Great Britain disrupted by MI5 and counter-terror policing since 2017, eight have been a right-wing extremist.
He added that was not the case for the 4 years before 2017, and that quite a few young people attracted to this ideology, which does tend to suggest this threat will be with us for some years to come.
The far-right, while showing signs of international links, was not yet a kind of coherent global movement, like “Al-Qaeda or ISIS” where you have a sort of unifying purpose and single organization that pools things together.
These stories are not terribly coherent either, he said. If you look either at “right-wing extremism” or “Islamist extremism”, it’s not a coherent ideology that really stands up to much scrutiny. People are nonetheless, sadly, attracted to the seeming certainty that they seek to provide.
McCallum said the far-right while showing signs of international links, was not yet a kind of coherent global movement, like Al-Qaeda or ISIS.
Last year, a 23-year-old member of the banned neo-Nazi group National Action was sentenced to life after admitting to plotting to kill his local lawmaker with a machete and making a threat to kill a police officer, according to PA news agency.
Jack Renshaw’s plans were revealed by a whistleblower, who was at a meeting in a pub when Renshaw announced his intentions in July 2017, a year after Labour Member of Parliament Jo Cox was “murdered” by a far-right extremist.
The head of MI5, who lists hiking and being an active father as his interests, said the growing threat was replicated in Europe and the U.S. Essentially all the services with which we partner closely have some version of this.
He said the security service had advised the government during the pandemic, on anything from the construction of emergency hospitals to repurposing research originally done on “toxic chemicals” to help understand how COVID-19 in droplets might disperse.
He admitted that – no matter how much ingenuity and hard work we bring in, MI5 cannot prevent every “terror attack”. And if I’m honest, when my own phone rings late in the evening, my stomach lurches in case it is one of those awful moments.
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