Top counter-terror officer asks public’s help identifying aspiring terrorists
Mark Rowley of the Metropolitan police also reports huge rise in number of Syria-related arrests this year.
The UK’s top counter-terrorism officer has appealed to the public, family members and friends to help identify aspiring terrorists as he revealed a fivefold increase in the number of arrests this year for terrorism-related offences.
Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan police’s head of counter-terrorism, made the appeal amid growing concern over homegrown militants drawn to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq and after the killing of James Foley by jihadists in Syria.
In his statement, Rowley said police activity has been escalating for many months now with a significant rise in the number of Syria-related arrests. There have been a total of 69 arrests in the first half of 2014 for offences covering fundraising for terrorist activity to the preparation and/or instigation of terrorism acts and travelling abroad for terrorist training.
Recent arrests included a 19-year-old man in Camberwell, south London. He was charged with engaging in conduct of preparation for terrorist acts, and is awaiting trial. Another young man, previously unknown as a terrorist risk, was arrested last week on suspicion of planning to leave the country to travel to Syria for terrorist acts. He remains in custody.
High priority operations, especially against those involved in attack planning or on the cusp of doing so have increased greatly. Port stops, and cash seizures have increased by more than 50% in a bid to disrupt terrorists.
The biggest growth in investigations has occurred in London and the West Midlands.
“The growth of dangerous individuals poses challenges for policing, especially when nearly half of Syria travellers of concern were not known as terrorist risks previously,” said Rowley.
“Hence we appeal to the public to help identify for us aspiring terrorists – they may be about to travel abroad, have just returned or be showing signs of becoming radicalised.”
- The Guardian,