Suspected Islamic terrorists are being prevented from returning to the UK for the first time, the British interior minister Amber Rudd has disclosed, as she warned that members of the Manchester bomber’s terror network could still be at large.
Prime Minister Theresa May said developments in the investigation into the bombing meant intelligence experts had decided to lower the threat level from its highest rating “critical”, meaning an attack could be imminent, to “severe.”
Members of Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi’s network are still potentially at large, Amber Rudd said on Sunday, after the terrorism threat level was lowered due to significant progress in the investigation.
Asked during an interview, “whether some of the group were still at large”, Rudd said: “Potentially. It is an ongoing operation. There are 11 people in custody; the operation is still really at full tilt in a way.”
Rudd added: “What this reminds us is the scale of the problem that we have, the enemy that we have, that is trying to weaponize the young people in our society.”
Fresh raids were carried earlier today as security services brace for more attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan beginning tomorrow.
Islamic State has called on its followers to rise up in an “all-out war” on “infidels” in the West. Saturday marks the start of a 30 day period of fasting and reflection in the Islamic world, which has in recent years seen a large increase in terror attacks.
Detectives have made immense progress in the investigation into the Manchester bombing and are confident they have arrested some key players, Britain’s top counter-terror officer has said.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said police have made ‘significant’ arrests and have got hold of a ‘large part of the network’ being sought over the atrocity.
Police on Saturday released these photos of Salman Abedi, taken at an unknown location on the night of the Manchester bombing.
Abdedi was known to British security services before the bombing, the government has said, but Rudd declined to comment on exactly what had been known about him. Media have reported that people who knew Abedi had raised concerns about him and his views as long ago as five years before he carried about Monday’s attack.
“The intelligence services are still collecting information about him but I wouldn’t rush to conclusions, as you seem to be, that they have somehow missed something,” Rudd said.
“We know one of the last places Abedi went was the city centre flat and from there he left to make his way to the Manchester Arena,” Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins and Neil Basu, Senior National Coordinator UK Counter Terrorism Policing said in a joint statement.
The parents of one victim of the attack told the government to “open its eyes” to the terror threat.
Georgina Callander, 18, was killed in the blast shortly after singer Ariana Grande left the stage at the Manchester Arena on Monday. In a statement released through Greater Manchester police, her family said the teenager’s life had been cut short by “evil, evil men prepared to ruin lives and destroy families”.
The family added: “I wish I could say that Georgina is one of the last to die in this way but unless our government opens its eyes we know we are only another in a long line of parents on a list that continues to grow.”
When asked how many potential militants the government was worried about, Rudd said the security services were looking at 500 different potential plots, involving 3,000 people as a ‘top list’, with a further 20,000 beneath that. “That is all different layers, different tiers, it might be just a question mark about one of them or something serious with that top list,” she said.
“I believe we can get them to be more successful in working with us to find a way of getting some of that information,” she said. “The area that I am most concerned about is the internet companies who are continuing to publish the hate publications, the hate material that is contributing to radicalising people in this country.”
Security minister Ben Wallace also told sources, that the government was looking at a range of options to put more pressure on internet firms to take down extremist material and change their algorithims to stop such posts from linking to similar material elsewhere online.