Posts Tagged ‘MI5’

Terrorism: The UK on Standby as ISIS Plans Hits

January 31, 2016


1 February 2016


British Intelligence believes ISIS is planning to hit the UK sometime soon.  ISIS likes that.  It like MI5, MI6, GCHQ, police counter terrorism groups, Europol and the other agencies working overtime. It says to the people that it is a threat.

Simply warning of an attack when a Minister says the Security State is, say, Severe is part of the deal for ISIS.  Terrorism is about terrorising. A bit of video apparently showing the Paris attack organiser Abdelhamid Abaaod saying “we are already in your lands.  We will slaughter you inside your homes” is terrifying enough for many and therefore is terrorism succeeding in some form.

Even more terrorising would have ISIS saying we are coming to get you in your National Gallery where you show the Christian Adoration of the Magi. Or how about we’re coming to get you in your City of Birmingham Concert Hall?  Or try this: we are going to slaughter you and your Queen on her 90th birthday in April.

All of this is credible because in a generation brought up on IRA atrocities anything terrorism promises often comes to pass in some form. The dark side of that is that a nation like the British recover inside the week.

After 9/11 it was not uncommon for a few Muslim-looking guys, smartly dressed, to pretend they had lost their wallet on a train, then spot it and then tell their clearly English carriage companion that as a thank-you for helping to find the wallet they would break an oath and warn them to stay away from the tube on the coming first anniversary of 9/11. Some probably fell for it.

But what about a Paris-type hit.  Do the British believe it?  Sure they do. The newspapers tell readers this is so.  The reader believes it because there is evidence world wide that it happens. No one suggests that the story  is nothing more than a reporter with “sources who cannot be named” trying to get a page one story under his or her by-line.

The behaviour of the cynical prankster or the reporter maybe using a half truth that Intelligence people really are working overtime to identify an ISIS cell in Birmingham, London or wherever.

The chilling acceptance is that people in major cities and towns now accept that within their societies men and women are planning their worst atrocities.  There is something approaching resignation. There is no great social media discussion. People do not change their work patterns and journeys. Newspaper warnings rarely make Page I. Why should they? After all Paris was a high hit possibility but it did not make the splash until it happened.

Last week with a little knowledge about these matters I did a walk round ten London targets.

I checked CCTV street, approaches and buildings, access in and quick exits, doors front back and side, mobile and radio signal back spots, stairways, getting immediately to crowds in buildings who would by panic trap themselves on which floors, street traffic flows and vehicle congestion that would hold up response teams, street area panic streams – which way, overflow and dead ends.  I added for good measure, symbolism of the building and contents.

Simple really.



Why MI5 needs MPs to back Cameron demand to bomb IS

September 17, 2015


17 September 2015. London

Andrew Parker, Director General of the UK Security Service says a terrorist attack on the British Isles from IS is “highly likely”.

Considering the the security state in the UK was SEVERE in January 2015, that suggests nothing has changed.  That threat status comes from the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre.  In recent times, it has got more right than not.  In these times that is a considerable achievement.

An even greater success is the fact that MI5 has foiled six recent attempts by terrorists to cause tragedy in the UK.  The threat is up about 35% during the past five years. The spread of counter terrorism action is up twice that amount.

It would seem on paper that the UK is holding its own against the terrorist threat. That is an easily corrupted illusion.

Each year a planned major attack is discovered. The rate of planned attacks is increasing. But the resources of MI5, the lead counter terrorism agency in the UK are weaker in practical terms.  Throwing money into the Security Service Budget is all very well but (a) resources really mean trained manpower and a vastly important catch-up programme of intercepting terrorist communications internationally by inner and dark webs to unknown electronics to street level Elint, for example, pay-as-you-go mobiles. Use once and bin is an almost perfectly secure street communicator where the only real hope is to find the contact being called rather than the caller.

Most of all, resources are not instant action solutions. Manpower is an example.  A raw probationary intelligence officer without any Service background can take two years to train to any higher standard than monitoring.  A Service of about 2000 trying to track and monitor say 2700 known radicals is an obvious unbalanced force.

Technically and using all other agencies (the Secret Intelligence Service and GCHQ plus police) the find-track-monitor rate is almost inevitably always a most demanding and often exhausting task. MI5 may never have had a harder role especially as it cannot easily get to the source of the threat, IS in Syria.

The intervention of Andrew Parker (who headed the investigation in the July 2007 London bombings) at this stage suggests an important link to PM David Cameron’s expected Commons Motion asking for Parliamentary support for the UK to join the coalition bombing campaign over Syria.  MI5 want the SI command and planning targets in Syria. That is where the direction for a UK will have full authority.  He would like the UK to go after that specific target rather than using resources to attack Assad troops.

So we can see Parker saying today that Parliament should vote Yes to Syria bombing.

Meanwhile there is a sub-clause to what he had to say: there is a Treasury move to wrap the Intelligence budget in with the Defence Ministry.  Parker wants to make it clear that this is nothing more than paper accounting.  He needs hands on always for his own budget and he needs a much bigger one and especially a technical development budget with GCHQ.

There is a ready source of increased budget for them both: delay Trident update for six years.  Give the money and the resources to the Intelligence people. They need it more than Trident Replacement. MI5 is in excellent hands but this its need to be guaranteed even more trained and technical resources than now they have.  Maybe Mr Corbyn at next PMQs could get Chrissie from Sussex to ask the PM why this should be made so.