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Big Brother Watch: 'Britain needs more discussion'

Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties campaigners Big Brother Watch, said:

This speech is more striking for what it did not say.

No recognition that Britain's legal framework was drawn up before Google existed, no acknowledgment that our antiquated oversight mechanism may need further reform, no mention of the US Government's moves towards increased transparency and oversight.

The fact he does not feel GCHQ's reach should be publicly discussed is in stark contrast to the US government's efforts to maintain public confidence by bringing further transparency and oversight to the reach of the NSA.

People will rightly question why, if the US congress can publicly debate the reach of their agencies, the British public should be denied any details of what is happening here.

MI5 boss warns of growing concerns over Syria

A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he walks on the rubble of a damaged building in Deir al-Zor. Credit: Reuters

The Director General of MI5 has warned of the increased risk of terrorism from Syria.

Speaking in public for the first time Andrew Parker said there was a "growing concern" over the troubles country:

"For the future, there is good reason to be concerned about Syria. A growing proportion of our casework now has some link to Syria, mostly concerning individuals from the UK who have travelled to fight there or who aspire to do so"


MI5 Director warns of 'thousands' of Islamists in the UK

The Director General of MI5, Andrew Parker, has warned about the risks of Islamists in the UK.

Addressing the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Mr Parker said:

Since 2000, we have seen serious attempts at major acts of terrorism in this

country typically once or twice a year. That feels to me, for the moment, unlikely to change.

While that tempo seems reasonably even, the ground we have to cover has increased as the threat has become more diversified.

The ability of Al Qaida to launch the centrally directed large scale attacks of the last decade has been degraded, though not removed. We have seen the threat shift more to increasing numbers of smaller-scale attacks and a growing proportion of groups and individuals taking it upon themselves to commit acts of terrorism. It remains the case that there are several thousand Islamist extremists here who see the British people as a legitimate target.

MI5 chief: Leaks 'hand terrorists the advantage'

The Director General of MI5 has defended the security services right to remain secret in the wake of the Edward Snowden NSA and GCHQ leaks.

The Director General of MI5 Andrew Parker. Credit: Press Association

Speaking in public for the first time since taking on the role Andrew Parker said publishing details of the service's work, "hands the advantage to the terrorists."

He said: "What we know about the terrorists, and the detail of the capabilities we use against them together represent our margin of advantage. That margin gives us the prospect of being able to detect their plots and stop them.

"But that margin is under attack. We are facing an international threat and GCHQ provides many of the intelligence leads upon which we rely.

"It makes a vital contribution to most of our high priority investigations. It causes enormous damage to make public the reach and limits of GCHQ techniques.

"Such information hands the advantage to the terrorists. It is the gift they need to evade us and strike at will. Unfashionable as it might seem, that is why we must keep secrets secret, and why not doing so causes such harm."

Cameron to urge G8 leaders not to pay terror ransoms

The Prime Minister arrives at Belfast International Airport, Northern Ireland, ahead of the G8 Summit. Credit: Suzanne Plunkett/WPA Rota

David Cameron is expected to urge all G8 leaders to commit their countries not to pay terror ransoms in an international effort to cut off extremists' funding.

Up to 70 million US dollars (£45 million) is estimated to have been paid to secure the release of Western captives in the last three years alone - an average 2.5 million US dollars (£1.59 million) per victim.

Much of that is believed to have ended up in the coffers of terror groups including al Qaida and its affiliates and the Taliban.

The UK outlaws such payments but other countries - including some within the group of leading industrialised nations - continue to meet the demands to the frustration of non-payers.

  1. Anglia

Gang tried to make bomb from terror manual

The Luton terrorist group were trying to make an an improvised explosive device (IED) based on instructions in an al Qaida manual entitled "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom - by the al Qaida chef", the court was told.

Covert recordings of the pair heard Iqbal suggesting attaching the bomb to a remote controlled toy car and sending it under the gap of a gate to a Territorial Army (TA) centre in Luton.

The men were arrested following a series of raids at their homes in April last year after an intelligence-led joint operation by the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command and the British Security Service (BSS).


  1. Anglia

Luton terror group set for sentencing

Guilty of terror charges: Zahid Iqbal, 31 Credit: Metropolitan Police

Four Luton men could be sentenced today after admitting discussing carrying out a terror attack in the UK.

Zahid Iqbal, 31, Mohammed Sharfaraz Ahmed, 25, Umar Arshad, 24, and Syed Farhan Hussain, 21, considered methods, materials and targets for an attack.

Guilty of terror charges: Mohammed Sharfaraz Ahmed, 25 Credit: Metropolitan Police

The men were arrested following a series of raids in April last year. They pleaded guilty to one terrorism charge at Woolwich Crown Court.

The four men downloaded computer files containing practical instruction for an attack, and collected funds for terrorist purposes.

Guilty of terror charges: Umar Arshad, 24 Credit: Metropolitan Police

They also admitted facilitating, planning and encouraging travel overseas, as well as organising, encouraging and participating in physical training, contrary to section 5 of the Terrorist Act 2006.

The offences took place between January 2011 and April last year.

Guilty of terror charges: Syed Farhan Hussain, 21 Credit: Metropolitan Police

Accused thought 7/7 bombs 'had not done enough damage', court hears

Irfan Naseer, 31, and Irfan Khalid, 27, travelled to Pakistan for terrorist training before returning to the UK in July last year, jurors at Woolwich Crown Court were told.

In one conversation, Naseer was heard agreeing that the July 7 attacks had not done enough damage because there were no nails in the bombs.

The two men, along with Ashik Ali, also 27, are accused of being "central figures" in the alleged extremist plot.

Ali told police in interview that the plan had involved him wearing a suicide vest as well as carrying a gun, the jury heard.

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