The British government was just told to get tougher on the rising threat of far-right terror
- UK security officials have been told to get tougher on the rising threat of extreme right-wing groups.
- David Anderson QC said MI5 should investigate "all kinds of terrorism, irrespective of the ideology that inspires them."
- The Anderson report comes five days after Donald Trump retweeted posts from a British far-right leader.
Britain's security officials have been urged to get tougher on the rising threat of extreme right-wing terrorism - and to treat it in the same way as they would Islamist terror threats.
While the known number of terrorist plots from far-right extremists are lower than from Islamist radicalists, security authorities should implement an "equivalence of processes in analysing and dealing with all kinds of terrorism, irrespective of the ideology that inspires them," according to an independent report.
The recommendations were made by David Anderson QC, who on Tuesday published a review of the UK response to the Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge, and Finsbury Park attacks this year.
The 61-page report noted that in the 12 months leading up to October 2017, there were "instances of attack-planning" from far-right extremists, including "the construction of viable explosive devices and the acquisition of firearms."
It was hard, however, to quantify the number of thwarted attacks from far-right extremists "in part because of uncertainty as to whether a lone actor was actually planning an attack and, if so, whether it would have crossed the threshold from hate crime to terrorism," Anderson noted.
He said the far-right threat was "exemplified" by the murder of Jo Cox in June 2016, when the Labour MP was shot and stabbed to death by Thomas Mair. Prosecutors said his crimes were "nothing less than acts of terrorism."
MI5 should have "an increased role... in so-called domestic extremism work, including in particular XRW [extreme right-wing] terrorism," Anderson said.
"The aim is to ensure the equivalence of processes in analysing and dealing with all kinds of terrorism, irrespective of the ideology that inspires them."
Mario Tama/Getty Images
The Anderson report came five days after US President Donald Trump retweeted three videos posted Jayda Fransen, the leader of the far-right, anti-Muslim movement Britain First.
A spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Theresa May criticised Trump's retweets, saying: "British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right which is the antithesis of the values this country represents, decency, tolerance, and respect."
The Anderson report also revealed that UK security officials had prior intelligence on Salman Abedi, the perpetrator of the Manchester Arena suicide attack, but that its significance "was not fully appreciated at the time."
Andrew Parker, MI5's director general, said:
"I welcome David Anderson QC's independent assurance of our reviews, and we are committed to implementing the recommendations we identified. [...]
"MI5 and our partners continue to bring the full weight of our growing capabilities to counter this new intensity of threat. Our unrelenting focus remains on doing everything in our power every day to keep the country safe."