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The general population has been advised to “be vigilant” as the number of reports to the UK’s counter-terrorism hotline has significantly increased following Hamas’ attack on Israel.
Since Hamas carried out a coordinated terror attack that resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,400 Israelis, counter-terror authorities have received 1,350 reports between the dates of 7 and 25 October. This incident has contributed to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The amount of reports received by the UK’s hotline during this time last year was less than half of what was received this year, as there are concerns that events happening abroad may lead to violence domestically.
Police reported that the quantity of reports containing valuable information for investigators has increased by nearly four times, reaching a total of 200.
“The deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Laurence Taylor, cautioned that past events abroad have often served as motivation or catalysts for violent acts in our own communities. We are constantly collaborating with our partners to stay vigilant and assess potential threats.”
“We understand the potential for the conflict to energize individuals with extremist or terrorist intentions.”
“Keeping this in consideration, our anti-terrorism teams nationwide are reassessing their cases and ensuring that police operations are optimized to ensure the safety of the public.”
DAC Taylor said reports from members of the public are critical to keeping the country safe, adding: “As the increase in the number of reports to Counter Terrorism Policing in the last month shows, there is a real willingness from our communities to tell us about their concerns.
“Thank you to those who have reached out to the police. Your information can greatly influence our actions.”
The national counter-terrorism team responsible for monitoring online content has experienced an increase in referrals, with the public making nearly 2,000 reports since October 7th.
Out of these, over 350 have been identified as needing additional scrutiny to determine if the material violates anti-terrorism regulations.
The number of terror reports has risen significantly, following a 1,353% increase in antisemitic attacks in London due to the Israel-Hamas conflict, according to the Metropolitan Police. There has also been a 140% rise in hate crimes targeting Islam in the first weeks of October.
Last week, Rishi Sunak chaired an emergency Cobra meeting at No 10 amid fears that the conflict could have increased the terror threat in Britain.
After being warned by Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley about the acceleration of terrorism due to events in the Middle East, concerns were raised about potential threats from Iran.
Since February of last year, the UK’s terror threat level has stayed at “substantial”, implying a probable risk of attack.
The scheduled Cobra meeting on Tuesday, led by deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden, will discuss the potential effects on the UK of the conflicts in the Middle East and concerns regarding community unity.
The police have advised the public to stay cautious during Christmas and New Year celebrations as they fear it may be a “prime target” for attackers.
DAC Taylor stated that there are many exciting events and activities taking place in the upcoming months for people to celebrate the holiday season. However, it is important to be aware that terrorists may see these gatherings as alluring targets.
“Although we are putting in a lot of effort, along with our partners, to ensure that you can have a safe holiday season, our main message is to remain alert and rely on your intuition.”
“If you come across something that seems suspicious, please report it, whether you are a business owner, event planner, government official, or just spending time with loved ones. Your report could potentially save lives and will not be a waste of our time.”
Up to this point, the Metropolitan Police have apprehended three individuals for participating in acts of terrorism related to the ongoing conflict. Two of the arrested individuals were spotted carrying images of paragliders during a pro-Palestine demonstration, and the third was under suspicion for promoting Hamas through online means.
Heba Alhayey, 29, and Pauline Ankunda, 26, were taken into custody after demonstrations in London on October 14th. According to the Crown Prosecution Service, the arrests were made because of photos of paragliders that indicated they may be affiliated with a banned group, specifically Hamas.
Law enforcement, including specialized units for counter-terrorism, have been utilizing technology that recognizes facial features in order to identify and monitor any demonstrators displaying support for terrorist organizations during the regular pro-Palestine demonstrations that have occurred since the beginning of the conflict.
The Metropolitan Police is under increasing political pressure to prohibit a planned march on Armistice Day. They have advised the organizers to delay the march due to concerns that it may incite violence from splinter groups.
You can report any suspected terrorist activity by visiting gov.uk/ACT or calling 0800 789 321.