Britain had seen “a dramatic upshift in the threat” from terrorism, according to Andrew Parker, who is the head of Britain’s normally secretive domestic intelligence service.
“That threat is multi-dimensional, evolving rapidly and operating at a scale and pace we’ve not seen before,” Parker told specialist security journalists on Tuesday.
“It’s at the highest tempo I have seen in my 34-year career. Today there is more terrorist activity, coming at us more quickly, and it can be harder to detect.”
Elaborating on the scale of the problem, Parker said his agency along with police have prevented seven attacks by terrorists over the course of the past seven months.
Twenty major acts have been stopped in the past four years and 379 suspects have been identified and arrested in the first six months of this year, he added.
Extremist “terrorism is an acute and enduring challenge that requires a sustained and comprehensive approach,” Parker noted.
He also blamed the internet for the increase in the number of terrorists, saying, “They can go online to get explosives and learn how to build a bomb.”
Terrorist attacks so far this year have killed 36 people and hurt 200 in Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge and Finsbury Park. They were all carried out by people radicalized within the UK.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has been on many occasions criticized over her disproportionate attention to what she calls the threat from “Islamic extremism” while failing to notice the rise in the far-right terrorism threat.
UK Home Office figures have shown that nearly one third of people being monitored under the Channel anti-terror program in 2016-17 leaned towards extreme right-wing ideologies and were vulnerable to radicalization.