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MI5: Nine terror attacks prevented in UK over past year

Social media being used to encourage terrorism, Andrew Parker tells MPs.

The UK is facing one of the most severe threats from terrorism
The UK is facing one of the most severe threats from terrorism PA

A total of nine terrorist attacks have been thwarted in Britain in the past year, director general of MI5 Andrew Parker has told the Cabinet, Downing Street has said.

Andrew Parker told Theresa May and her senior ministers the defeat of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria did not mean the terror threat was over, warning that social media was being used to encourage attacks in the UK and elsewhere.

In a regular Westminster media briefing, the Prime Minister's official spokesman declined to discuss the details of the attacks that had been prevented over the past year, some of which are subject to forthcoming court proceedings.

But he confirmed that the subject of Mr Parker's presentation to Cabinet was the threat from Islamist-related terror.

"Mr Parker said that nine terrorist attacks have been prevented in the past year," said Mrs May's spokesman. "There have been five attacks that have got through, four of which are related to Islamist terrorism.

"The Prime Minister gave thanks to the tireless work of staff at MI5 to combat the unprecedented terrorist threat.

"Ministers heard that, while Daesh had suffered major defeats in Iraq and Syria, that doesn't mean that the threat is over. Rather it is spreading to new areas, including trying to encourage attacks on the UK and elsewhere via propaganda on social media.

The aftermath of the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017.
The aftermath of the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017. Credit: Press Association

"The Home Secretary said the pace of attack planning had increased significantly this year.

"Amber Rudd said that the Government has been putting pressure on social media companies to remove terrorist material and progress was being made.

"She pointed to recent efforts by Facebook, which last week said 83% of Islamic State and Al Qaeda content was being identified and removed within one hour.

"The Home Secretary stressed there was more for social media companies to do."

Mr Parker's intelligence agency has been under pressure with Britain hit by five terror attacks since March.

The MI5 chief has previously warned the country faces one of the most severe threats from terrorism.

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