Britain faces a heightened terror threat as it faces a huge surge in the number of convicted terrorists due for release from prison in 2018 – including Anjem Choudary.
The hate preacher, who inspired around 100 British jihadis including London Bridge killer Khuram Butt, could be given parole this year.
Choudary is among the 80 people jailed between 2007 and 2016 who could walk free – 40 per cent of the 193 extremists sent to prison in that period.
The British former lawyer was jailed in 2016 for five and a half years for inviting support for ISIS and is currently in a special ‘prison within a prison’ inside HMP Belmarsh in south-east London.
Before his trial he spent five months on remand in custody, meaning he has now served almost half his sentence – usually a trigger for release.
Butt was a known associate of Choudary before he, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, drove a van into crowds last year.
They were shot dead by police as they stabbed people at Borough Market.
Choudary’s other supporters included Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, the murderers of Fusilier Lee Rigby, and suspected ISIS executioner Siddhartha Dhar.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid will today announce a ‘step-change’ in the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy which aims to prevent extremists bringing bloodshed to the streets.
New policies will include longer prison sentences being introduced for those convicted of terrorist offences, including a maximum 15 years for watching jihadist propaganda such as beheading videos and bomb-making manuals on the internet.
Richard Walton, who was head of Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism unit for five years, told The Guardian, who conducted the study: ‘Terrorist prisoners released on licence place a resource burden on both specialist counter-terrorism detectives and on mainstream policing.
‘Former convicted terrorist offenders are a worrying risk pool for MI5 and counter-terrorist policing. Intelligence is often insufficient to gauge whether they have any intent to reoffend owing to their recent incarceration. Those intending to reoffend also often ‘lay low’ for a period as they know that there will be close attention on them after release.’
In April the government revealed 700 prisoners, including Islamist or far-right ideologies, are considered a risk due to their extremist views
The government’s new counter-terrorism strategy will boost intelligence cooperation between MI5 and police as well as the private sector.
The plan, to be dubbed Contest, will seek to ensure ‘that there are no safe spaces for terrorists, no safe spaces internationally, in the UK or online,’ Mr Javid is expected to say in a keynote speech.
‘The threats are evolving. We must evolve too,’ he will say to an audience of counter-terrorism experts, according to excerpts released by the Home Office.
The new strategy ‘incorporates the lessons learnt from the attacks in 2017 and our responses to them’.
Under the new blueprint, the security services will be alerted to suspicious purchases more swiftly.
The government want firms to raise the alarm as quickly as possible if they have evidence of unusual transactions – such as someone stockpiling large amounts of chemicals or acting suspiciously when hiring a vehicle.
Javid will also identify ‘extreme right-wing terrorism’ as an increasing threat and note similarities to the Islamic State group.
It will be his first major speech on security since becoming home secretary in April following the resignation of Amber Rudd over the Windrush immigration scandal.
The son of Pakistani parents who emigrated to Britain in the 1960s, he will touch on his own background to address the issue.
‘There’s one other thing that Islamists and the far right have in common,’ he will say. ‘As a Home Secretary with a name like Sajid Javid – I’m everything they despise.
‘So the way I see it, I must be doing something right.’