UK to remain on high terror alert for at least two years


LONDON: Britain faces at least two more years of heightened terror alert, with risks from state players including Russia as well as the aftermath of the collapse of Islamic State, the Guardian newspaper has reported quoting Whitehall sources.
Speaking as the government launched its national security capability review, the sources said the risk level currently at severe – could soon rise to critical, thanks to the possible return of scores of Isis fighters to the UK and the potential threat from states such as Russia, North Korea and Iran. Instability in north Africa, Yemen, Sudan and Syria were also said to be causes of concern. Unveiling a “fusion doctrine” for tackling national security threats, the prime minister says in the foreword of the review that every part of government and its agencies will have a part to play. “Over the past year in the UK we have witnessed appalling terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, but also a brazen and reckless act of aggression on the streets of Salisbury: attempted murder using an illegal chemical weapons, amounting to an unlawful use of force against the UK,” Theresa May says.
The review was partly a response to last year’s attacks. The Salisbury poisoning came too late to be considered, although sources believe the way it has been handled justifies the approach the review sets out. But the capability review fails to meet any of the criticisms made by parliament’s joint committee on national security, published late last week.
MPs and peers on the committee, including former foreign and defence secretaries of both main parties, were strongly critical of the lack of additional money. In January, the National Audit Office identified a potential £20bn shortfall in the defence budget, and the national security review was conducted on the basis that there would be no significant increase in the £56bn budget. The committee’s report warned that “financial constraints are distorting the UK’s national security”. The review also fails to answer the committee’s criticism of the decision to separate reviews of national security capability from strategic defence. The MPs warned that the separate defence review announced in January meant the review of national security capability had become an uncomfortable “halfway house” between a “quick refresh” of capabilities and a full review.