Terrorists ‘known to authorities’

The media often use the phrase ‘known to authorities’ after a terrorist attack. Let me illustrate why this is a meaningless phrase using the 2017 Manchester terrorist attack. Anyone who has any type of conviction is ‘known to authorities’: Masood was known to police for violent offences prior to 2003, and to MI5 for association with extremists, particularly between 2010-2012. In 2017 he was a closed ‘Subject of Interest (SOI). Subjects of interest are person MI5 has created a ‘Key Information Store Record’ (file) on. These are the 3000 personnel that are often quoted at representing the terrorist ‘threat’ in the UK, and are the priority investigations or have come to attention based on a lead arising from new intelligence (including 6600 reports from the public in 2017). Each SOI is subject to a quarterly review. Holding codes are used to categorise the threat (if any) that each SOI is assessed to pose to national security. Closed SOIs are the other 20,000 frequently quoted who have been part of a prior investigation since 2009 but given a holding code: categorised according to the amount of residual risk from LOW to HIGH that they are likely to pose in the future (further open source details on this case: OP CLASSIFIC are available in the Independent Reviewer of Terrorist Legislation’s report)

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