Colonel Richard Kemp is a former senior UK intelligence official and former chairman of the Cobra Intelligence Group who briefed the British government on secret intelligence.
Speaking with BBC Newsnight this week, Kemp said that the 23,000 jihadists MI5 officials have publicly admitted are living in the UK “may be the tip of the iceberg”:
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) June 26, 2017
The 23,000 number was reported in the days following the Manchester arena attack last month that left 22 victims dead and 250 injured.
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) May 25, 2017
The Times reported:
Intelligence officers have identified 23,000 jihadist extremists living in Britain as potential terrorist attackers, it emerged yesterday.
The scale of the challenge facing the police and security services was disclosed by Whitehall sources after criticism that multiple opportunities to stop the Manchester bomber had been missed.
About 3,000 people from the total group are judged to pose a threat and are under investigation or active monitoring in 500 operations being run by police and intelligence services. The 20,000 others have featured in previous inquiries and are categorised as posing a “residual risk”.
Those MI5 figures were confirmed by UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd the following day on Andrew Marr’s BBC show.
Amber Rudd confirms 23,000 terror suspects on MI5 radar inc 3,000 on 'top list' #Marr
— Alan Travis (@alantravis40) May 28, 2017
But Kemp’s stunning admission that these figures on the number of jihadists may be vastly understated lends evidence to the claim that the extent of the threat in the UK may exceed authorities’ ability to deal with it.
The pace of terror attacks in the UK this year has been staggering.
— Counter Terrorism Policing UK (@TerrorismPolice) June 13, 2017
March 22: 4 killed, 50 hurt in vehicular attack near Parliament
May 22: 22 killed, 116 hurt in Manchester
June 3: At least 6 killed, 20 hurt https://t.co/Vvw8Xxv52j
— Oren Kessler (@OrenKessler) June 4, 2017
— Simon Harding (@gridnash) May 25, 2017
Notwithstanding that arrests have been taking place at a blistering speed:
— Nick Short 🇺🇸 (@PoliticalShort) June 15, 2017
— Europol (@Europol) June 15, 2017
Top among the terror concerns are those returning foreign fighters who have traveled to terror zones, most recently Syria and Iraq, to fight with terror organizations:
— The Sun (@TheSun) June 5, 2017
And in Europe the UK is second only to France when it comes to the foreign fighter problem:
— AFP news agency (@AFP) June 16, 2017
After the London Bridge attack, London Mayor Sadiq Khan was evasive about where those 400 fighters who had returned from Syria were exactly and why they had been allowed to return:
How are we letting trained jihadis back into the UK without knowing where they are? Sadiq Khan grilled by Susanna Reid and Piers Morgan pic.twitter.com/G7yGWE5mkV
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) June 6, 2017
1/ I'm not surprised UK hit by terror. I've seen many UK based jihadists in S-Turkey moving freely btwn UK &N-Syria. Had to go wrong 1day.>
— Harald Doornbos (@HaraldDoornbos) May 25, 2017
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) February 16, 2014
The problem of jihadists returning home is not a new problem, but it had clearly grown unmanageable.
"Up to 65 al-Battar Battalion fighters have returned to the UK from Libya, more than 40 to France and 30 to Belgium" https://t.co/ZzM8NnNdx8
— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) June 3, 2017
MI5 fears over 60 Somali jihad plotters in UK http://t.co/l8lQoe1u0d
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) September 29, 2013
UK domestic intelligence chief: 'low hundreds' of UK residents have gone to Syria to fight http://t.co/Xbgw0KJKex
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) November 7, 2013
Exactly how bad the foreign fighter problem had become came to light when it was revealed that more Muslims had joined ISIS than the military in the UK over the same period:
— Telegraph Breaking News (@TelegraphNews) August 21, 2014
And it was revealed this week that more than 40 known terrorists are living inside the UK but cannot be touched because of human rights laws:
— Telegraph Breaking News (@TelegraphNews) June 24, 2017
Police anti-terrorism efforts have been hampered by politically correct policies:
— Richard W. Jones 🧹 🏴🇬🇧 ➡️ (@richardwjones) May 28, 2017
— The Sunday Times (@thesundaytimes) September 14, 2016
Javaria Saeed quit the Met Police Muslim Contact Unit, alleges she was told her career may suffer if she spoke out against colleagues views pic.twitter.com/hPsnzqGp4r
— Cider Social(ism) Distancing (@SurfaceKrystal) September 20, 2016
And by ignoring disturbing trends in the UK Muslim community:
— Sky News (@SkyNews) April 10, 2016
Terrorism in the UK has been fostered by widespread extremist views that have largely gone unchallenged:
Poll reveals 40pc of Muslims want sharia law in UK – Telegraph https://t.co/l58CrW9NZf
— Ezra Levant 🇨🇳🦠 (@ezralevant) November 14, 2015
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) November 23, 2015
Last year a YouGov poll of UK Muslims was released that revealed some shocking findings:
— The Sunday Times Magazine (@TheSTMagazine) April 13, 2016
— The Sunday Times Magazine (@TheSTMagazine) April 10, 2016
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) June 29, 2017
But rather than confront the spread of radical Islamist ideology in the UK, the government directed their attention elsewhere as the problem grew:
— Business Insider (@businessinsider) May 26, 2013
After London attacks, British prime minister calls for worldwide Internet regulations to fight terrorism https://t.co/kyy8alY1I0
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) June 6, 2017
Two arrested over shocking Facebook and YouTube video of Koran burning https://t.co/mTj7Lgod8L
— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) June 8, 2017
Finsbury Park attack: Man arrested over tweet https://t.co/gxyZ0csW9y
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) June 20, 2017
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) June 4, 2017
Meanwhile, the UK’s lackluster “countering violent extremism” (CVE) efforts have been undermined from within and without:
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) July 12, 2015
— The Times (@thetimes) June 3, 2017
As BBC Newsnight explored in their segment this week, a considerable portion of the UK’s terror problem up to this point has been localized around the al-Muhajiroun networks. These networks, where many of their domestic terrorists have sprung from, have been a chronic problem:
Research by @HJS_Org in 2011 showed 1 in 5 of Islamist-related terrorism convictions between 2001-2011 in the UK linked with Al Muhajiroun.
— Stephen Pollard (@stephenpollard) March 22, 2017
UK is Extremists’ Utopia, w/ MB & Al Muhajiroun Offshoots Ascendent – Arab Times http://t.co/cvbRQga67X
— El_Grillo (@El_Grillo1) December 8, 2014
Here is the entire BBC Newsnight segment in its entirety:
What Richard Kemp revealed this week is that the jihadist problem in the UK may be larger than anyone is the government can comprehend or is willing to admit. But as we’ve seen in recent weeks, the attacks continue and British citizens keep dying.
Has the terror problem in the UK passed the point of no return? If Kemp’s claims prove accurate, and there is evidence to believe they are, the attacks we’ve seen this year may be just the beginning of a terrifying trend.