After failing to thwart two terror attacks that have occurred in the U.K. so far this year – both of which were carried out by suspected jihadis who were known to U.K. authorities – intelligence agencies have identified 23,000 potential jihadis living in Britain, according to a report published in the Times of London on Saturday.
The report emerged after U.K. Prime Minster Theresa May downgraded the terror threat to “severe,” after raising it “critical” on Tuesday in the aftermath of the attacks.
Of this 'pool' of potential terrorists, 3,000 are suspected of posing an “imminent threat” and are being investigated accordingly, the Times reports. Meanwhile, the other 20,000 have been involved with past investigations and have been categorized as posing a “residual risk.”
Both suspected Manchester attacker Salman Abedi and Westminster killer Khalid Masood were in a pool of “former subjects of interest” and were no longer the subject of surveillance efforts, the Times reported. Abedi, a 23-year-old whose parents immigrated to the U.K. from Libya, killed 22 kids, in addition to himself, on Monday when he detonated a bomb just as attendees of a concert by American singer Ariana Grande were rushing for the exits following her performance.
The report comes amid intensifying criticism of the intelligence agencies, who have been accused of doing an inadequate job identifying former “subjects of interest” who have returned to extremism.
The notion that there are 23,000 potential jihadis in the U.K. is “horrifying,” said Anthony Glees, head of security and intelligence at the University of Buckingham.
“We should double the size of MI5, as we did in World War II, and expand the number of intelligence-led police by the thousands.”
Meanwhile, thousands of soldiers will remain deployed on Britain’s streets through Monday, the Times reported.
We leave it to Nigel Farage to sum up a nation's concerns...
UK authorities have identified 23,000 potential jihadist extremists. The problem is much worse than we first thought. pic.twitter.com/Qu2Ap210kl— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) May 26, 2017