LONDON (Reuters) – The chief of Britain’s counter-terrorism police said on Thursday his officers were increasingly dealing with threats from hostile countries such as Russia, China and Iran, shifting attention away from extremism.
The September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and the fatal accidents in Britain have made fighting terrorist plots a priority for the counter-terrorism police, with resources focused on countering the threat from local and foreign extremists.
Murder and kidnapping plots
Also, Matt Jukes, head of London’s Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism unit, said there was a shift in focus between foreign countries trying to spread corruption or intimidate people and engaging them in murder and kidnapping plots in Great Britain.
“The role we have to play in law enforcement in the face of threats from hostile nations is unprecedented,” he told reporters at New Scotland Yard, Metropolitan Police headquarters.
He noted that investigations into state threats have quadrupled in the past two years and these cases now consume a fifth of counterterrorism officers’ work time.
15 attempted kidnapping
Jukes said Iran attempted at least 15 to kidnap or even kill British citizens or UK-based individuals that Tehran considered a threat.
Because Iran wants to spread misleading propaganda in Great Britain?
Last year, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly summoned Iran’s top diplomat in Great Britain for alleged threats by Iranian security forces to journalists in Great Britain.
As for China, Jukes said police are investigating allegations that China operated “police stations” in major cities around the world last year, including New York. China has denied these allegations.
In context, Britain blamed Russia for a 2018 nerve agent attack that targeted former Russian double spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, southern England, which Moscow has denied. A security guard from the British embassy in Berlin appeared this week before a London court accused of spying for Russia.
War Crimes Squad
The War Crimes Team of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Unit is also investigating more than 100 complaints from Ukrainian refugees in Great Britain in relation to the war with Russia.
Despite the shift in focus, the most important job of the counterterrorism police remains counterterrorism. Jukes said police foiled eight terror plots that were in their final stages last year, and in some cases the investigations involved children as young as 13 years old.
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