UK terror attack linked to Gaza ‘likely only a matter of time’, security sources say

Police outside Marble Arch station as part of Project Servator

UK terror attack linked to Gaza ‘likely only a matter of time’, police say

GB News
Mark White

By Mark White

Published: 29/11/2023

- 21:15

Updated: 29/11/2023

- 21:19

GB News understands there is no specific intelligence of any planned attacks

A terror attack in the UK, linked to the conflict in Gaza, is “likely only a matter of time”, security sources have told GB News.

France and Belgium have already raised their terror threat levels after separate attacks in those countries in recent weeks.

Scotland Yard’s head of counter terror policing told GB News there was no specific intelligence of any planned attacks, but calls to the anti-terror hotline have risen 700% since the conflict in the Middle East began on 7 October.

Commander Dominic Murphy has urged the public to be extra vigilant in the run-up to Christmas.

WATCH HERE: Mark White explains Project Servator as terror attack linked to Gaza ‘only a matter of time’

“Of course we've seen in the past, haven't we, that events overseas can often lead to radicalisation of individuals here and we're very alive to that,” he said.

“The threat remains the same for the UK, but around the country counter terrorism policing are working really closely with our partners to understand that threat and respond accordingly.

“And that's why we're asking people to be really vigilant this winter and call us if anything feels out of place.”

GB News was given access to counter terror patrols in central London, where officers from the Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police are increasing their activity over the festive period.

Police outside ticket barriers as part of \u200bProject Servator

Police outside ticket barriers as part of Project Servator

GB News

Dozens of officers, a mix of uniformed, plain clothes and firearms teams form part of Project Servator.

As well as engaging with members of the public at transport hubs and other crowded places, the teams are on the lookout for anything suspicious, or out of the ordinary.

Addressing the increased concerns relating to the conflict in the Middle East, Commander Murphy said: “We've seen an increase in investigations linked to extreme material online, some of that breaching the Terrorism Act. And of course we've seen some people arrested at protests who are showing support for Hamas and breaching the Terrorism Act at protests as well.

“But I'm pleased to say the public are clearly motivated here, because we've had a 700 per cent increase in calls to the anti-terrorism hotline and lots of reports online of people being concerned about things they've seen or individuals they know.”

But as much as police are grateful for the public’s engagement, the fact that growing numbers of people are increasingly worried about extremist behaviour, is of clear concern to authorities.

Dominic Murphy said: “We've seen an increase in Prevent (counter extremism programme) referrals and we've seen a particular increase in the amount of online extreme material referred to us.

“We've now had over two and a half thousand reports from the public to the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit.

“Over 500 of those require more investigation to understand whether there's been a hate crime or a Terrorism Act offence committed.

Police outside ticket barriers as part of \u200bProject Servator

Police outside ticket barriers as part of Project Servator

GB News

“So we're having to use our resources to work ever more closely with our partners in the intelligence community, but we're working really hard to get through all of that material and respond accordingly.”

The festive period can have added symbolism for terrorists, and is a time when large crowds gather for special events or to go Christmas shopping. In the past terrorists have targeted Christmas markets and church services across Europe.

Terrorism specialist Chris Phillips said the Christmas period was always a priority for security planners.

The backdrop of the deadly conflict in Gaza only heightens those concerns, he said.

“Well, sadly, it may only be a matter of time before we have a terrorist incident within the UK.

“We've seen them across Europe and of course with the tensions in the Middle East, that's something that really could cause problems within the UK as well.

“They don't have to have been trained or radicalised by anybody in the Middle East. They have access to all of the pictures that are coming out. That can be enough to trigger people.

“People are getting radicalised. There's no doubt about that. The police have been informed that people are becoming radicalised. And of course, they don't need training in order to get into a car or use a knife. So it's a real concern for policing across the UK.”

For now at least, the terror threat level in the UK remains unchanged, at Substantial – meaning a terror attack is likely.

Security sources have told GB News that police and the security services are closely monitoring known extremists.

But whether they are known or unknown to law enforcement, the longer the war in Gaza rumbles on, the greater the risk that radicalised individuals could be triggered by that conflict and commit acts of violence.

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