Andrew Parker, Director General of Britain’s Security Service MI5, spoke about the international counter terrorism threat and how MI5 works to tackle it.
“Islamist extremists (…) threat is multi-dimensional, evolving rapidly, and operating at a scale and pace we’ve not seen before,” summarized Parker as for the general assessment of the current state of the terrorist threat in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, especially France, Belgium and Germany. As a result, MI5 and its European counterparts are operating at a scale greater than ever before.
“We are now running well over 500 live operations involving around 3,000 individuals known to be currently involved in extremist activity in some way,” acknowledged Parker, in addition to incoming threats from Syria and Iraq “revenants” and from a growing pool of over 20,000 individuals already or previously in the terror loop.
Despite such stark assessment, the counter-terrorist and intelligence response has grown accordingly and the ongoing military pressure on the Islamic State (ISIS) could disrupt online incentives for quick and harder-to-detect engagement of individuals in quite impossible to prevent knife or vehicle attacks. Parker reminded that Al Qaeda (AQ) and others share a same ideology and continue to pose a real threat as well.
The exponential development of the terrorist threat has been known to analysts for almost two years and other European intelligence agencies, particularly MI5’s French counterpart DGSI, share a same viewpoint that the threat has reached unprecedented levels.
Given the tense context, agencies keep stressing on their long-term need for more seasoned analysts and operatives with a view to tackling the threat effectively.