May 29, 2019

ENGLAND: Home Secretary Reported That 19 Major Terror Attacks Were Foiled In The Past Two Years. Most Of Them Were Related To Islamic Terrorism. "Some People Were Trying To Do Some Thing."

Sky News, UK
written by Greg Heffer, political reporter
Monday May 20, 2019

The home secretary reveals the "tempo of terror activity is increasing" as he announces plans for new laws to combat threats.

UK security services have foiled 19 major terror attacks over the past two years, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has revealed.

During a speech in which he confirmed plans to look at designating parts of Syria and possibly West Africa as terror no-go zones for British citizens, Mr Javid described how "the tempo of terror activity is increasing".

The Home Office will also look to introduce new laws and refresh treason legislation to combat activity by hostile states' agents.

Mr Javid said: "Each and every day our security services fight against terror, from large international terrorist groups to radicalised individuals.

"And in the past two years they have foiled 19 major terrorist attacks - 14 of them Islamist and five of them motivated by extreme right-wing ideologies.

"But those are just the headline figures. For each attack prevented, there are dozens more that never have the chance to begin in the first place.

"And, despite this impressive work, the tempo of terror activity is increasing."

Mr Javid said he has asked Home Office officials and counter-terror police to "urgently review" the case for designating Syria as a terrorist hotspot, with a particular focus on Idlib province in the north-west of the country and others areas in the north-east.

He said: "Anyone who is in these areas without a legitimate reason should be on notice. I can also see that there may be a case in the future for designating parts of West Africa."

This could see Britons in those areas who are not aid workers or journalists, for example, face up to 10 years in prison.

The home secretary also unveiled proposals for fresh legislation to be presented by the government in a new espionage bill to combat the threat of hostile states following the Salisbury chemical weapons attack, which has been blamed on Russia.

Mr Javid claimed the March 2018 attack was a "sharp reminder" that the end of the Cold War was "not the end of the state-on-state threats that many had actually predicted".

Admitting there are "some real gaps in current legislation" to deal with hostile state activity, he said: "We have to ensure that we have the necessary powers to meet the current and evolving threats to the UK both domestically and overseas.

"Getting that right and having those right powers and resources in place for countering hostile states - it must be a post-Brexit priority."

A new espionage bill would "bring together new and modernised powers" and could include the adoption of a register of foreign agents - such as the US employs - as well as an update to the Official Secrets Act.

The government could also consider updating centuries-old treason laws.

"Our definition of terrorism is probably broad enough to cover those who betray our country by supporting terror abroad," Mr Javid said.

"But if updating the old offence of treason would help us to counter hostile state activity then there is merit to considering that too."

The Treason Act, which dates from 1351, was last used in the UK in 1945 to prosecute William Joyce (otherwise known as Lord Haw-Haw), a Nazi propagandist who assisted Germany during the Second World War.

Mr Javid revealed he shares some of the concerns of UK allies, such as the US and Australia, over allowing Chinese company Huawei access to telecommunications networks.

He said he would take these into account as the government makes a final decision on allowing the tech giant to supply 5G infrastructure.

Asked whether he would be a candidate to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, who has set out her intention to quit once the UK's exit from the EU is agreed, Mr Javid said: "You'll just have to wait and see."

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