Snowden Leaks May Incite Vigilantes: Former MI5 Chief Warns Britons Will Seek To Defend Themselves Against Jihadis – If Gov’t Does Not Pass New Anti-Terror Laws
“A former head of MI5, warned on Tuesday, that the revelations by CIA fugitive Edward Snowden had left Britain at risk of “vigilantism;” because, “it was less able to protect itself from Islamist fanaticism.” “Breaking his silence on the devastating impact of the security breach,” James Slack writes in today’s (Jan.14, 2014) DailyMailOnline, former MI5 Chief Jonathan Evans said: ‘The result of this can only be that the overall risk of a successful terrorist attack in this country has risen.’
In what Mr. Slack describes as “a chilling interview,” Mr. Evans also “warned that events in Iraq and Syria had given jihadis ‘a jolt of energy; and, the government must complete the ‘unfinished business of giving the security services extra surveillance powers — or risk “vigilantism,” on the streets — as citizens look to protect themselves.” Lord Evans added, “inadequate security will breed vulnerability and fear; and that in turn, will tend to diminish people’s ability to exercise the very civil liberties and human rights that we wish to sustain.’
Mr. Slack writes that Lord Evans comments came “amid warnings from the EU’s Security Chief that Europe faces its ‘most serious’ threat since 9/11. Rob Wainwright, the Head of Europol, revealed there were between 3,000-5,000 EU nationals who posed a terrorist threat after traveling overseas to countries such as Syria,” to fight on behalf of the Islamic State.
Lord Evans told members of the Parliament: “Clearly, we’re dealing with a large body, of mainly young men, who have the potential to come back — with the intent and capability to carry out the attacks [kind of] we have [recently] seen in Paris.
Mr. Slack adds that Lord Evans, who stood down as the head of MI5 in April 2013, “used his maiden speech in the House of Lords last night, to deliver a devastating analysis of the harm caused by,” the Snowden leaks. Lord Evans, among many other national security leaders, warned that the Snowden leaks — “led to terrorists changing the way they communicate; and, made Internet companies less willing to co-operate with MI5 and GCHQ — for fear of upsetting privacy campaigners. When I left MI5 in 2013, I felt cautiously optimistic that we were over the worst as far as al Qaeda and Islamist terrorist attacks were concerned. It seemed to me, that we were making significant progress. Regrettably, subsequent events have proved that judgment to be wrong. The atrocious killing of Fusiller Rigby in May 2013, demonstrated the reality of the threat we face in this country; and, the brutal murders in Paris last week demonstrate that this is a European and international problem…not one we face alone.”
“The revelations made by Edward Snowden…have clearly led to a reduction in the ability of the security agencies — both here, and overseas — to access and read the communications of terrorists internationally…with the result that a the threat of terrorism has gone up in the last two years, the ability of the security agencies to counter those threats…..has gone down.”
Remarking on those British citizens who have travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight on behalf of the Islamic State, Lord Evans said, many of them return even more radicalized than when they originally went over. “They had experience of combat and trained in violence; and they an international network to draw from — and, over an extended period of time…and I fear we may be facing the same situation,” as France.
Mr. Wainwright said the terror threat was the ‘most serious’ the continent had faced since the fall of the Twin Towers in New York more than 13 years ago.”
Mr. Wainwright told the Commons Home Affairs Committee, that Europol had been building a database of EU citizens who had travelled overseas to fight; and that, it has collected 2,500 names thus far — from security agencies across member states — but, believes that as many as 5,000 may have gone abroad.”
Lord Evans is correct, and something I have also written and warned about here in the U.S. homeland. Those who are concerned with what they view as a too expansive of a surveillance effort by the U.S. government, haven’t seen anything yet — if al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State successfully detonated some kind of weapon of mass destruction on the homeland.
Study Of 119 Lone-Actor Terrorist Incidents Found “No Uniform Profile;” But, Did Find These Individuals “Regularly Engaged In A Detectable, And Observable Range.”
The year 2015, is so far shaping up as the year of the “lone wolf,” and/or, small groups of actors who’d plans are harder to detect and stop. As Steven Erlanger writes in today’s New York Times, “these acts do less damage and kill fewer people than large-scale attacks; but, they inspire significant fear and create high-profile propaganda that helps recruitment and fund-raising for affiliated extremist groups. Media-conscious militants, now often wear Go-Pro cameras to create high-quality videos that can be shown online.” Shastank Joshi, a Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, said that “a lone wolf, or a small group known as a “wolf pack,” operating without formal control from abroad, crates enormous problems.”
“In a study of 119 lone-actor terrorists in the March 2014 Journal of Forensic Sciences, Paul Gill, a lecturer at University College London, and his co-authors, found that there was “no uniform profile,” of lone actors, although they often spoke beforehand about their grievances, beliefs, and even their intention to commit violence.” The study also found their acts “were rarely sudden and impulsive,” and that they “regularly engaged in a detectable and observable range of activities with a wider pressure group, social movement, or terrorist organization.”
“Lone actors are difficult, but not impossible to detect,” Mr. Gill added. “There are weaknesses in these lone actors that create opportunities for counterterrorism,” he said. A study he did for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) found, that “in 60 percent of the cases the individuals had leaked very specific information about the plots they were about to go on,” telling family members and friends what they were about to do,” Mr. Gill noted.
Fear Of Potential Vigilante-Style Reprisals Against Muslim Community Is Warranted, And Real
But, you have to have a strong, and robust surveillance apparatus — that is capable of surging when the threat is elevated as it is now. Because of the Snowden leaks, our intelligence community is in a weaker position than we were in than at any time since the 9/11 attack — in terms of being able to ferret out and discover these kind of plots before they occur. Additionally, other unwise moves — such as the Mayor of New York’s decision to curtail police surveillance of the Muslim community and Mosques, the U.S. unwillingness to profile — is only further undermining and putting at risk — the safety of all Americans. You may be opposed to profiling — but, having a choice of perhaps offending some, or potentially aiding their demise — I would suspect most would choose the former. Lord Evans concerns over the potential for vigilantism is well warranted; and, a distinct possibility both abroad, and here at home — if America suffers more Boston Marathon-type events. V/R, RCP