Police chief: ‘4 or 5’ terror plots foiled in UK

‘On average over the last few years it’s been about one (plot) a year, but this year alone we think four or five,’ the police chief said

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British police claimed Monday that four or five terror plots were foiled this year, as the country’s Home Secretary Theresa May prepared to unveil new counter-terrorism measures.

“On average over the last few years it’s been about one (plot) a year, but this year alone we think four or five,” Scotland Yard commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe told the BBC.

“Certainly we’ve seen a change to the momentum... we’ve seen a change to the frequency and the seriousness of the types of plots that we’re looking at,” he added.

May is scheduled to announce on Monday that insurance companies will be barred from paying terrorist ransoms, according to released remarks, Agence France-Presse reported.

Investigations have so far led to the arrest of 271 people this year, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley on Monday.

Separately, three were charged in London last week on charges related to an alleged plot which media reports said included a beheading in Britain.

Rowley warned that the threat posed by extremists has “evolved” and in an effort to rally support from the public, he launched a new awareness campaign to encourage communities to help the “eyes and ears” of law enforcement.

Hogan-Howe added that threats also came from so-called “lone wolf” attacks by individuals or small groups, which caused a “growing concern,” and warned their ability to act quickly left little time for the security services to intervene.

But he said the public could help by being more vigilant, particularly in crowded places and transport hubs where attacks are more likely to happen.

For a week starting on Monday, police will brief over 6,000 people at 80 venues including schools and shopping centers across Britain to let ordinary people and businesses know how they can help by identifying and reporting suspicious behavior.

The campaign will also urge people to question charities about where their money is going, amid concerns that some is being used to channel funds to militants.

“If the public, the businesses and police work together with the security services then that’s an incredibly powerful team,” Hogan-Howe said.

The national terror threat was raised in August to “severe,” meaning an attack is highly likely, but the police chief said the message was to “keep calm but be aware.”

He repeated fears that Britons who have gone to fight with militant groups in Iraq and Syria might return to use their new training and experience to launch an attack in Britain.

But he did not comment on a claim by an opposition Labor lawmaker that as many as 2,000 Britons are fighting overseas -- four times the official estimate of 500.

Khalid Mahmood, an MP in the city of Birmingham, told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that in his area -- which has a large Muslim community -- there was a “huge problem” of people going to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.