UK faces terrorism risk at highest level since 1990s, says MI5

UK is facing its most severe threat in living memory, according to assessments by MI5 and emergency services The UK is facing its most severe threat in living memory after the firebombing of a…

UK faces terrorism risk at highest level since 1990s, says MI5

UK is facing its most severe threat in living memory, according to assessments by MI5 and emergency services

The UK is facing its most severe threat in living memory after the firebombing of a mosque in the city of Manchester which police believe was a terrorist attack.

A number of police forces are conducting counter-terrorism raids across the country and Scotland Yard announced that it had increased its security alerts across the capital.

A report on Friday by the Met police said there was a “substantial” terrorist threat to Britain, an increase from “severe” to “critical”. A “critical” level could see troops deployed on the streets.

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The MI5 director general, Andrew Parker, told MPs on Tuesday that the threat of terrorism was at its highest level since the late 1990s. His statement prompted David Cameron to say it was a “wake-up call” for the country.

MI5 “is assessing the risk of a terrorist attack to the UK as severe – the highest possible level”, the Metropolitan police announced in a statement.

A separate statement on Wednesday by police on the Salisbury nerve agent attack said: “The police can confirm that since the significant work which has been undertaken in the last few days, we have a higher level of threat from international terrorism.

“This means we have the highest level of alert. The national threat level has been raised from severe to critical. Any attack would be targeted at the UK. The public is asked to remain vigilant at all times.”

A spokesman for the Greater Manchester police (GMP) said: “As part of the heightened alert, GMP has asked local emergency services to be proactive in managing any incidents which have been formally classified as terrorism.

“We will continue to monitor events.”

The news that the immediate threat had been raised came days after Manchester City council warned communities to be alert and report any “suspicious person or activity”.

The council said: “Terrorism is a threat to all, and the risk to Muslim communities – especially in Manchester, who suffered one of the worst bombings in recent history – must be a concern to all.”

Despite the warning, none of the first responders in the street to the terror attack in south Manchester on Monday knew the identity of the bomber.

The Islamic State (Isis) claimed responsibility for the bombing at the city’s Al Noor mosque. Manchester city council, GMP and the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) all gave statements on Wednesday morning.

Mark Roberts, the Acpo spokesman, said: “We fully understand the heightened nature of this week’s events, and are committed to ensuring there is an appropriate resourcing plan across the force network.”

The Metropolitan police said: “Since 17 March 2017, in which we were first alerted to the threat of terrorist attack in the UK, the Met has responded to 13 of these events and made over 7,500 arrests for terrorist offences, including 65 women.

“Since 2014, the Met’s Prevent activity has stopped over 4,000 individuals from being radicalised and ready to engage in terrorism-related activity.”

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