A reorganisation in MI5’s counter-terrorism team now treats far-left, ‘single-issue’ terror threats equally to Islamist and far-right terrorism, with the development of a unit to deal with specific left-wing threats.
The Telegraph reports that MI5 has established a new unit especially to deal with animal rights extremism and anarchism. MI5 took over tracking far-right terror threats six months ago and the reorganisation and development is in an attempt to ensure that all terror threats receive a similar level of investigation, regardless of the ideological motive.
Dubbed LASIT, an acronym which stands for ‘Left-wing, Anarchist and Single Issue Terrorism’, this makes up a minority of UK terror threats.
However, in recent years, Europe has seen an unprecedented rise in animal rights-related terrorism. Last year in France, 15 attacks on butchers and animal product shops last year were committed by vegan extremists. Recently in the UK, a group was accused of encouraging ‘telephone terrorism’ when they encouraged the doxxing of Conservative MPs who supported a badger cull.
The shakeup is in response to the fact that two-thirds of terror threats remain domestic, with far-right and Islamist threats making up the majority. According to The Telegraph, far-right extremists now make up nearly one-fifth of terrorists in prison.
A Whitehall source speaking to The Times, however, said that the threat from left-wing terrorists was a “tiny fraction” of cases compared to the danger posed by jihadists and far-right extremists.
“The lone actor threat is the biggest problem,” Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said. “My biggest concern that is we have seen cases when people both in Islamist and right-wing space where people are radicalised in days or weeks.”