UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid has revealed plans for MI5 to declassify and share information on British citizens who are suspected of having terrorist sympathies.
The move is part of his Contest strategy to counter the increase in terrorism. Attempted and successful terrorist attacks rose sharply with five carried out in the past year, and there were fears that they would continue to do so.
The strategy also revealed that there have been 25 Islamic-linked plots stopped in the UK since 2013, and four attacks foiled that were planned by right-wing extremists in the past year.
“These people want to destroy the values we hold dear, and undermine the freedoms that make us who we are. And there’s one other thing that Islamists and the far-right have in common,” Javid said. “As a home secretary with a name like Sajid Javid, I’m everything they despise. So the way I see it, I must be doing something right.”
Javid revealed that key biographical data on suspected terror sympathizers would be shared with local police, councils, and the charities commission in the trial schemes, which will take place in London, Manchester and the Midlands.
Other strands of the strategy include increased and faster information-sharing between public agencies, and increasing maximum sentences for some offenses, including up to 15 years in prison for watching jihadist propaganda. Intelligence of up to 100 of the 20,000 citizens currently labeled as “closed subjects of concern” could be shared between the Probation Service, Charities Commission and Communities department initially. Ministers also want firms to report unusual transactions, such as stockpiling chemicals or acting suspiciously, as soon as possible.
The Contest strategy will also outline a new hardline approach to right-wing extremists, and plans for strengthening security at public events. Other elements of the strategy will include new powers for police and security services to arrest and jail suspects before they carry out plots, and measures to counter insider threats including allowing suspected jihadists to get jobs at airports.
Javid also called on technology firms to do more about extremist content posted online, and announced that 2,000 new spies will be recruited to MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, aiding surveillance on terrorists.
The home secretary described terrorists calling themselves Muslims as “twisting their faith,” and called on British Muslims to help root out extremists in their communities. “Although we all share the responsibility for tackling terrorism, there’s a unique role for Muslims to play in countering this threat,” he said. “British Muslims up and down the country are leading the fight against Islamist extremists by throwing them out of their mosques and by countering their poison online and on the streets. It is incredibly powerful when young Muslims turn their backs on the preachers of hate.”
Javid went on to say, “This government is absolutely committed to doing everything possible to tackle terrorism.”