The U.K. government must act to stop the “grave threat” posed by its citizens going to fight in Syria and other wars by engaging with them on their return to prevent attacks on British soil, a panel of lawmakers said.
“Whether in classrooms, local community centres or through the global reach of the Internet and social media, a clear message needs to be sent to those at risk,” Home Affairs Committee Chairman Keith Vaz said in a statement.
The cross-party panel recommended that national responsibility for policing terrorism should be passed from London’s Metropolitan Police to the National Crime Agency, and all shopping centers should be adequately prepared for attacks.
“Recent events involving Boko Haram, Al-Shabab and al Qaeda show that the terrorist threat to the U.K. is as grave as at any point in the past 13 years,” said Vaz, an opposition Labour Party lawmaker. “The international community must act as one to tackle this global problem.”
Malcolm Rifkind, the lawmaker running the parliamentary committee that oversees British spies, said in a speech yesterday that Edward Snowden’s leaks about the extent of surveillance by British and American agencies was an “attack on the U.S.”
The Intelligence and Security Committee is charged with providing oversight to the work of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, Britain’s secret agencies. The committee is conducting an inquiry into the revelations by Snowden, a former U.S. National Security Agency contractor, about the extent of surveillance.
“The insidious use of language such as ‘mass surveillance’ and ‘Orwellian’ by many of Mr. Snowden’s supporters to describe the actions of Western agencies blurs, unforgivably, the distinction between a system that uses the state to protect the people, and one that uses the state to protect itself against the people,” Rifkind said in a lecture at Oxford University, according to a text of his address.
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