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9 Dec, 2021 21:50

Seven 'late-stage' terrorist attacks foiled during pandemic – police

Seven 'late-stage' terrorist attacks foiled during pandemic – police

The UK's Counter-Terrorism Policing (CTP) unit has said it foiled seven "late-stage" attacks since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The report comes after the country recently saw two attacks within weeks of each other.

In a press release on Thursday, the CTP claimed to have diverted a total of 32 “late-stage” planned terrorism incidents since March 2017, seven of which took place after the start of the pandemic. The cases were most commonly linked with Islamic extremism (18), extreme right-wing terrorism (12), and left/anarchist/single issue terrorism (2), according to the agency's statistics. 

Senior National Coordinator for CTP Dean Haydon acknowledged that the UK had recently “suffered two terror attacks in quick succession”, and warned of an ongoing “sustained and high tempo threat” heading into the “festive period”. He also urged the public to do their part lest the nation's children become radicalized.

We are very concerned that children are becoming an increasing proportion of our arrests,” he added.

Though the overall arrest rate has actually declined given the Covid lockdowns that kept most of the British public indoors, 25 children were taken into custody since March 2020 in connection with terrorism offenses. That figure nevertheless represents the largest number of kids jailed in any 12-month period, according to the CTP report.

It's not clear if this is due to more anti-terrorism investigations being conducted against under-18s or if that group has actually become more of a threat. However, the boss of MI5 acknowledged earlier this year that agents were now investigating teens as young as 13.

Beyond the seven incidents mentioned in the Thursday report as having been thwarted by police, the UK suffered two fatal terrorist attacks in recent months. In October, Tory MP David Amess was stabbed to death by a man who had reportedly been plotting to kill a lawmaker for years and considered himself affiliated with the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group. 

Last month, a man hired a taxi and blew himself up using an improvised explosive device outside Liverpool Women's Hospital. The taxi driver managed to escape the vehicle with minor injuries. 

Following the Liverpool attack, the government raised its terrorism threat level to “Severe.” Such a designation means an attack is “highly likely,” the CTP reminded the public, urging them not to “let their guard drop” over the holidays.