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School massacres and eight 'late-stage' terror attacks foiled by cops last year as 13-year-olds put under investigation

16 February 2023, 14:19

Counter-terror chief Matt Jukes said state threats against the UK have increased fourfold in the last two years
Counter-terror chief Matt Jukes said state threats against the UK have increased fourfold in the last two years. Picture: Getty

By Fraser Knight and Kieran Kelly

School massacres and eight 'late-stage' terrorist attacks were foiled by counter-terror police last year, the force has said, as it confirmed children as young as 13 are under investigation.

Some of the plots involved "goal-line saves" by counter-terror cops, where the offender had identified their target and acquired weapons to carry out the attack.

Matt Jukes, head of counter-terror policing, said there is particular concern over the involvement of young people in terror plots, adding that the force had also intervened to prevent young people carrying out school massacres.

Asked whether he thought social media is being used to indoctrinate young people, Mr Jukes told LBC: "It’s giving, sadly, young people, a twisted inspiration.

"It’s giving them, on occasion, information, so the ways to carry out terrorist attacks. We will work very hard with tech companies to remove that kind of content online."

Counter-terror police are currently running 800 live investigations
Counter-terror police are currently running 800 live investigations. Picture: Getty

Mr Jukes continued: "Sadly, as we know it creates an echo chamber so people’s ideas, those really wicked ideas, are bounced off each other and reinforced.

"So the online space is the biggest shift in our experience of countering the terrorist threat."

He added: "It's been very acute on its impact on young people in the last few years."

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Counter-terror cops also said state threats against the UK have quadrupled in the last two years, with 20 per cent of case work focusing on hostile states.

In particular, there have been 15 threats to kill on UK soil by the Iranian regime since January last year.

Russia and China are also considered major threats, with Mr Jukes noting that specific communities are frequently targeted by would-be attackers.

Mr Jukes said that while many threats are focused on individuals, people should see them as "threats to our way of life".

Head of counter-terror police Matt Jukes
Head of counter-terror police Matt Jukes. Picture: Getty

He also renewed an appeal for people in the UK to come forward and report their experiences of war crimes in Ukraine.

The number of reports of war crimes in Ukraine being dealt with by counter-terror cops has doubled to more than 100 compared with around 50 last year.

School massacres have been foiled by counter-terror police, the force has said
School massacres have been foiled by counter-terror police, the force has said. Picture: Getty

"People in the UK now, who have crossed Europe to come to us safety have got digital media and have got their own personal testimony of their experiences of war crimes in Ukraine."

He added: "We know people in the UK have information that could help us support the International Criminal Court."

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