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Security Minister Says Terror Plots Have Shifted Towards "Self-Radicalised" Individuals

Police outside Liverpool Women's Hospital following the attack

3 min read

The security minister has said there are "concerns" about the trend towards terror attacks being carried out by "self-radicalised" people following the Liverpool bombing.

Damian Hinds said police were discovering "more by the hour" about the bombing at Liverpool Women's Hospital on Sunday which killed a suspected terrorist and wounded taxi driver David Perry.

Officers from Counter Terrorism Police North West said last night that enquiries were "very much ongoing" but that they "strongly believe that the deceased is 32-year-old Emad al Swealmeen".

Four other men arrested in connection with the explosion have now been released, Greater Manchester Police said.

Hinds said it could be weeks before the full investigation into the attack is finished. 

"The investigation is moving at pace," he told Sky News on Tuesday.

"The [police] are discovering more by the hour, but nevertheless, it can take quite some time, it could be weeks before the full picture of how this came about, what the motivation was, if potentially other people were involved."

Hinds said the government and security services were "concerned" about the rise of individual attacks carried out by people who have been self-radicalised online.

He steered against the common use of the term "lone wolf" in the instances of attacks that appear to be led by individuals, but said intelligence agencies were seeing less evidence of "directed attacks" where the perpetrators are "following instructions and are quite complex in their organisation".

"There has been a move from that towards more self-directed and self-radicalised individuals or small groups," Hinds continued. 

"Rarely totally, totally alone, because people talk to each other, they take advice and they give hints, but there has been that move."

He suggested the Covid lockdowns could have worsened the situation for a "very small minority" who spent more time online, increasing the risk of them being radicalised.

"During the lockdown periods there have been more people spending more time in-front of their computer screens and we know when that happens for a very, very small minority of people, there can be radicalisation with very bad consequences," he said.

"Self-radicalisation on the internet, the propoganda and the way people make contact is not a new development, but in this case they will have exacerbated and increased the amount of time people are spending online."

On Monday the UK's terror threat level was raised from substantial to severe, meaning further attacks are "highly likely".

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the decision had been taken following the Liverpool bombing, which came just weeks after the stabbing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess, which was also declared a terrorist attack by police.

"We continue to work with our world class security, intelligence and policing services – representatives from those agencies," Patel said.

"There is a live investigation taking place right now. They will need the time and the space to do the work that they are doing in terms of investigating the incident.

"But of course we as a government, I as home secretary, continue to work with everyone when it comes to the security of our country and making sure that we are taking all the necessary steps required."

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