British Jihadists and the UK Surveillance State
In his testimony, Farr defends the practice because Britain has for “many years faced a serious threat from terrorism,” especially the threat derived from “militant Islamist terrorists.” He says the practice has prevented terrorist attacks and saved lives.
A recent spike in the number of British jihadists fighting with Sunni militant groups in Syria and Iraq is fuelling a heated debate over how much government surveillance is necessary to keep the United Kingdom safe from domestic terrorism.
The British government is asking for additional surveillance powers to monitor British jihadists who might be planning attacks in the UK after their return from the fighting in the Middle East.
But privacy groups counter that the British state has already amassed massive surveillance powers, and that what the government really wants is a free rein to monitor all of the communications of every man, woman and child in Britain.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that the greatest threat to national security is from British citizens and other Europeans fighting with the Sunni militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [ISIS]. At a press conference on June 17, he said:
“No-one should be in any doubt that what we see in Syria and now in Iraq in terms of ISIS is the most serious threat to Britain’s security that there is today. The number of foreign fighters in that area, the number of foreign fighters including those from the UK who could try to return to the UK is a real threat to our country.”