A former terror chief has warned that authorities are facing a huge “challenge” in being able to identify lone-wolf attackers who have been radicalised during the pandemic.
Nick Aldworth, the UK’s former counter-terrorism national co-ordinator told Sky News that the terror threat level could be raised following the murder of Tory MP Sir David Amess.
The UK are now facing a slow “developing wave of terrorism in Europe that’s starting to move towards the UK” which is similar to what was seen between 2016 and 2017.
The terror threat level should have been raised months ago to “severe” which means a terrorist attack is “highly likely.”
Aldworth told Sky News, “My belief is we must be quite close to moving up a threat level back to ‘severe’.
“I’ve been advocating for a long time that the threat level should have probably changed a few months ago.
“My view, from what we’re seeing, is there are similarities this year with what we saw in 2016 and 2017 of a slowly developing wave of terrorism in Europe that’s starting to move towards the UK.”
The government was warned by British intelligence agencies that there is a threat from lone-wolf attackers.
Aldworth added, “It’s become the new norm within terrorism: people self-radicalising and then deciding to do something about it.
“We live in a democratic society, we don’t live in a surveillance society where the authorities can, without cause, tap your phone and monitor your internet usage.
“It’s an enormous challenge and an enormously resource intensive challenge.”
He warned there is a gap in market with family members reporting changes in behaviour who have readicalised during the lockdowns.
Aldworth said, “Typically about 30% of referrals come from education” whilst around “30% come from the police and about 30% come from a disparate number of places including health.”
“The interesting point is that only between 2 to 5% come from family and friends and the workplace.
“Of course, that’s the point you would expect changes in people’s behaviour to be most observable.
“That’s where the gap in the market is.
“A challenge at the moment is Prevent is seen as a police mechanism, whereas actually Prevent is a mechanism for reporting vulnerable people and safeguarding them.”
The UK’s Prevent scheme was designed to try and stop people from becoming radicalised, which saw over 6,000 referrals to the programme in 12 months to March 2020.