UK’s MI5 has 43,000 terror suspects on watchlist: media

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LONDON, June 23 (Xinhua) — The number of terror suspects on the watchlist of Britain’s MI5 security service has risen to 43,000, more than double the figure from the previous year, local media reported Tuesday.

Among the 43,000 people, 3,000 terror suspects remained “subjects of interest” and a further 40,000 individuals had been placed on a second list, The Telegraph newspaper reported.

Citing the Government Transparency Report for 2018-19, which went unnoticed when published in March as COVID-19 was approaching its peak, the newspaper said that the current level of threat of those 40,000 people “is not judged to be sufficient to prioritise allocating investigative resource against them.”

The MI5 has admitted that Khairi Saadallah, accused of stabbing three people to death in a park at the southern England’s town of Reading, had been briefly under investigation, but the case file was closed after two months.

The information passed to intelligence officers was “not credible enough” to warrant a full-blown investigation into an allegation that Saadallah had been planning to travel to Libya, his home country, to fight with extremist groups, said the newspaper.

Quoting Sir Mark Rowley, a former leader of Britain’s counter-terrorism policing, the newspaper said police and security services faced a “wicked problem” in deciding which of the 43,000 people on MI5’s radar could launch a terror attack and therefore merited a full surveillance operation.

Three people were killed and at least three others were injured in the attack at Forbury Gardens in Reading on Saturday night. The 25-year-old Saadallah from Reading was arrested on suspicion of murder after being detained at the scene.

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