LONDON: MI5 intelligence will be shared with bodies outside the security community in a drive to stop terror suspects before attack plots can crystallise.
Ministers will also bring forward strengthened anti-terror laws to allow earlier interventions, and target the “insider threat” at airports amid warnings the aviation system remains a “totemic” target.
Details of the measures emerged as the Government unveiled its new blueprint for tackling terror. In a major shift, MI5 will declassify information on individuals who have appeared on its radar – but are not currently under active investigation.
Details could be passed to bodies such as councils, local police or government departments, who will work alongside intelligence agencies to determine the best course of action to manage the risk. Greater intelligence-sharing is seen as necessary to minimise the threat posed by suspects who are rapidly radicalised to the point of violence before security services can detect the shift.
Salman Abedi, the Manchester bomber, was categorised as a “closed subject of interest” at the time of the attack, and so not under active investigation.
There are an estimated 20,000 individuals who have previously featured in terrorism probes, either as active targets or on the periphery of inquiries. Officials emphasised that the new project will be on a much smaller scale – with the number of cases where intelligence could be shared expected to be in the low hundreds over the next year. The new “Contest” strategy document, published on Monday, says: “We will share information more widely and support more local interventions with individuals in our own communities who are being groomed or incited to commit or support acts of terrorism.” New “multi-agency approaches” will be rolled out, initially in London, the West Midlands and Greater Manchester. Prime Minister Theresa May said the new strategy “has a much greater focus on systemic co-ordination across the public sector”. She added: “By linking up not just the intelligence agencies but also local authorities, health providers and many others, it will make it harder than ever for terrorists and those who support them to plan and carry out attacks.”
Since March last year, 12 Islamist and four extreme right-wing attack plots have been foiled. MI5 and police are running more than 500 live operations involving roughly 3,000 active “subjects of interest” at any one time.