UK May Have 1200 Potential Terrorist Suspects

The United Kingdom’s MI5 is too busy to participate in a hearings on the London train bombings because they’re too busy surveilling suspected domestic terrorists.

TWENTY “major conspiracies” by Islamist terrorists in Britain have been uncovered by the security services, John Reid, the home secretary, has disclosed. Reid said that the existence of so many plots means that the police and MI5 are fully stretched and cannot divert their precious counter-terrorism resources to a lengthy public inquiry into last year’s London suicide bombings.

Reid revealed the existence of the plots — far more than have previously been reported — at a meeting with some of the victims’ relatives and survivors of the attacks last week. He failed to give further details but the claim appears to fit in with briefings by MI5 which suggest that as many as 1,200 potential terrorist suspects may now be in the UK. [emphasis added]

One of the operations is thought to have been the target of raids by hundreds of police officers last week. Anti-terrorist police believe they may have thwarted a wave of suicide bomb attacks on British and US forces in Iraq. The police arrested eight men during the armed raids. The men, all from Libya, were being held on suspicion of encouraging and financing Al-Qaeda operations abroad.

Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, has said previously that security services have foiled three attacks by Al-Qaeda terrorists since the July 7 suicide bombings. Reid may also have been including at least three more alleged plots where charges are current. That still appears to leave a further 13 current Islamist plots which, on Reid’s account, are under investigation. Experts say that such a figure is far higher than Whitehall security officials have previously admitted.

For a nation of 60.2 million–and a Muslim population of 1.6 million–to have 1200 terrorist suspects is quite stunning.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.