UK Lowers Terrorist Threat Level

The Government has today lowered the risk of a terrorist threat from severe to substantial, meaning that an attack is still likely. The decision to lower the level was made by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) and is the first time it has been lowered to this level since August 2014. JTAC was established in June 2003 and is based in MI5’s headquarters at Thames House in London.

Head of Counter Terrorism Policing, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, said in a statement:

“The reduction to ‘Substantial’ indicates positive developments in reducing the threat from terrorism but still means an attack is likely. Counter Terrorism Policing has around 800 live CT investigations nationally and 24 attack plots have been thwarted since the atrocity in Westminster in March 2017. So it is vital that we all maintain a high level of vigilance and continue to invest in strong protective security measures to deter future attacks.”

Foreign Secretary Issues Statement Following Attacks in Terrorist Attacks in Sri Lanka

Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, has issued a statement following a series of terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. There are currently 207 people confirmed as dead with over 450 more injured, although the total is expected to rise over the coming days.

Hunt said:

“I’m deeply shocked and saddened by the horrifying attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka today, and the tragic news of more than 200 people killed, including several British nationals.

To target those gathered for the simple act of worship on Easter Sunday is unspeakably wicked. Everyone has a right to practice their faith in peace, safety and security but tragedies like this, and the one in Christchurch, remind us that there are some who hate these rights and freedoms.

These despicable acts were carried out at a time when millions of Christians celebrate Easter while living under the shadow of persecution. Many gather in churches at risk of attack; countless more will have suffered threats or discrimination.

The UK stands in solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world and with the government and people of Sri Lanka. My prayers are with all the victims and their families.”

Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, posted on Twitter:

“Terrible to wake up to the news of the explosions in Sri Lanka this morning. My thoughts and deepest sympathies to those who are injured, those have lost loved ones and those involved in rescue efforts.”

Hizballah Group Banned in the UK

Sajid Javid

The measures introduced by the Government to ban the terrorist groups of Hizballah, Ansaroul Islam and Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam Wal-Muslimin (JNIM) have come into force today. It will now be an offence under the 2000 Terrorism Act to either be a member of these groups or to canvass support for the groups.

Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, said in a statement:

“My priority as Home Secretary is to protect the British people. As part of this, we identify and ban any terrorist organisation which threatens our safety and security, whatever their motivations or ideology which is why I am taking action against several organisations today.

Hizballah is continuing in its attempts to destabilise the fragile situation in the Middle East – and we are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party. Because of this, I have taken the decision to proscribe the group in its entirety.”

Foreign Secretary Issues Statement on Terrorist Attack in Egypt

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has condemned the attack on a mosque in the North Sinai area of Egypt. There have been over 300 confirmed deaths and tens of injuries with the country’s President, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, saying that the country would respond with “the utmost force”.

In a statement Johnson said:

“I strongly condemn the horrendous and sickening attack on a mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai. My thoughts are with the people of Egypt and the families of all those affected by this terrible and cowardly act.

I have been in touch with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to offer my condolences and underline the UK’s full commitment in standing with Egypt in its fight against terrorism”.

Prime Minister Calls for Internet Companies to do More to Stop Terrorist Content

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has called for on-line companies to do more to prevent the spread of terrorist content. May is today co-hosting a meeting at the UN General Assembly in New York along with the French and Italian leaders.

The Prime Minister will say at the meeting:

“Terrorist groups are aware that links to their propaganda are being removed more quickly, and are placing a greater emphasis on disseminating content at speed in order to stay ahead.

Industry needs to go further and faster in automating the detection and removal of terrorist content online, and developing technological solutions which prevent it being uploaded in the first place”.

The Prime Minister said in advance of the meeting:

“We need a fundamental shift in the scale and nature of our response – both from industry and governments – if we are to match the evolving nature of terrorists’ use of the internet. I call on others to join the UK, France, and Italy in pledging their support for this approach.

This is a global problem that transcends national interests. Governments must work with and support the efforts of industry and civil society if we are to achieve real and continuing progress and prevent the spread of extremism and terrorist use of cyberspace. In order to succeed, we must be united in our determination to fight terrorist exploitation of the internet”.

Boris Johnson Welcomes Qatar’s Commitment to Tackling Terrorism

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has welcomed efforts by the Emir of Qatar to tackle terrorism. In a statement Johnson said:

“I welcome the Emir of Qatar’s commitment to combat terrorism in all its manifestations, including terrorist financing. The Emir also pledged to resolve the remaining differences with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain through dialogue, negotiation, and Kuwaiti mediation. These steps will help to resolve the dispute.

We hope that in turn Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain respond by taking steps towards lifting the embargo. This will allow substantive discussions on remaining differences to begin.

The UK will continue to engage our partners in the region to help them reach a solution, including assisting Kuwait’s important efforts in whatever way we can”.

Prime Minister Makes Statement Following London Terrorist Attack

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has spoken in Downing Street following the terrorist attack on London Bridge on the evening of 3 June 2017. There are currently seven confirmed dead with tens of casualties, some of which are life-threatening.

The Prime Minister said:

“Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time. But it cannot be defeated through military intervention alone. It will not be defeated through the maintenance of a permanent, defensive counter-terrorism operation, however skilful its leaders and practitioners. It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence – and make them understand that our values – pluralistic, British values – are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate”.

She added:

“So in light of what we are learning about the changing threat, we need to review Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy to make sure the police and security services have all the powers they need. And if we need to increase the length of custodial sentences for terrorism-related offences, even apparently less serious offences, that is what we will do”.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, said:

“This was an horrific attack in the heart of our capital city, targeted at people enjoying their evening with friends and family. My thoughts are with the victims and all those affected by this incident.

As ever, in difficult and traumatic circumstances, I am extremely proud of and thankful to our police and emergency services who responded so swiftly and those who will work tirelessly as the investigation into this appalling act continues”.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, said:

“You cannot protect the public on the cheap. The police and security services must get the resources they need, not 20,000 police cuts. Theresa May was warned by the Police Federation but she accused them of ‘crying wolf’”.

Tim Farron, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats said:

“The terrorists kill us because they hate us and what we stand for. They hate our democracy and our freedom. We refuse to let them win. We must respond with a vigorous commitment to our democracy. The election must go ahead as planned. It is right that we suspend our national campaigning for a short while out of respect for those affected by these tragic events, but local campaigning can and must continue. The remainder of this campaign must be a collective showing of defiance and pride in our democratic values”.

British Government to Increase Military Co-operation with India

The British Government has confirmed that it is to increase its military co-operation with India. Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, has been visiting India and he laid a wreath at the Taj Mahal hotel to commemorate the 2008 terrorist attack.

Fallon said that the UK had told Pakistan that there could be no tolerance of terrorism and he added “No country is immune from terrorism. India and the UK need to work even harder, and more closely, to combat it”.

Fallon said in a statement:

“As Britain steps up globally, we continue to develop our close security partnership with India. Our countries are recognised globally as leaders in defence and we remain steadfast in our commitment to regional security, growing our defence industries and supporting our mutual interests.

Our nations face the same threats and we will work closely together to harness British expertise and Indian brain power to develop cutting edge technologies and equipment that benefit both of our Armed Forces”.

Foreign Secretary Condemns Lahore Attack

hammond

A terrorist attack in Lahore, in Pakistan, has claimed the lives of at least 69 people. Easter celebrations were underway when the attack, which is thought to have been a suicide bomb, took place.

Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, said in a statement:

“My thoughts are with the victims and their families. The UK utterly condemns these senseless acts of violence. We will continue to provide support and assistance to the government of Pakistan as they work to defeat those who plan and perpetrate these acts of terror.

We advise British Nationals in Lahore to avoid the area, monitor FCO travel advice and local media and to follow the advice of local security authorities”.

Government Issues Statement on COBRA Meeting

belgian flag

The Government has issued a statement over a second meeting of COBRA which was held this morning to discuss the terrorist attack on Belgium.

A spokesman said:

“The Prime Minister chaired a further COBR meeting this morning on the Brussels attacks.

We are concerned about 1 missing British national and we are in close contact with the Belgian authorities. We are aware of 4 British nationals who were injured in the attacks – 3 are being treated in hospital, 1 has already been discharged. Our embassy staff are working to assist all British nationals affected.

In terms of travel advice, we continue to advise people to follow the advice of the Belgian authorities. Therefore we are no longer advising against travel to Brussels. British nationals in Belgium should remain alert and vigilant, stay away from crowded places, and follow the instructions of the Belgian authorities.

Here in the UK, we stepped up the security presence at a number of locations across the country yesterday and we will maintain this in the coming days. The national threat level remains at SEVERE (an attack is highly likely) and the public are advised to be ‘alert but not alarmed’.

Government departments will be observing a minutes silence at 11am UK time. The Prime Minister will update MPs at the start of Prime Minister’s Questions, followed by an oral statement from the Home Secretary later this afternoon setting out the government’s response to the attacks”.