Monthly Threat Update August 2021
There were no confirmed terrorist attacks in the UK, Western Europe or North America in August 2021. However, a shooting by a selfdescribed ‘incel’ in Plymouth, which resulted in the deaths of five civilians and the gunman, may be reclassified as terrorism according to Devon and Cornwall police. This was the first confirmed case of incel-related violence to take place in the UK, although police have disrupted several planned attacks in recent years.
Internationally, the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, driving government forces from Kabul on 15 August. Taliban rule in Afghanistan is likely to destabilise the wider region as well as increase the terrorist threat to the West. There is a realistic possibility the Taliban will provide a haven for Islamist terrorist groups, like Al-Qaeda (AQ). Furthermore, the situation in Afghanistan will likely result in long-running instability which would likely be exploited by Islamist extremists seeking ungoverned territory from which they can plan and prepare attacks against the West. In the short-term, the perception of a Western military defeat by the Taliban is likely to embolden Islamist extremists worldwide. Consequently, threat of terrorism in the UK and elsewhere will likely increase in future.
Domestically, the inquiry into the February 2020 attack in Streatham has found that authorities had missed the opportunity to prevent the attack. Jurors found that when police identified that the attacker, Sudesh Amman, was buying material for his hoax suicide belt, he should have been recalled to prison. Jurors also determined that the killing of Amman by covert officers was lawful.