UK security services have identified 3,000 Islamist extremists, but who are the dangerous ‘critical few’?

“…The problem facing the security services, as underlined by the “self-starters” or “lone wolves” in this case and the Woolwich murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby, is that they have at least 3,000 people in Britain on their databases whom they regard as potential Islamist extremists.

Many of them will be flagged as “low level subjects of interest” on the periphery perhaps of a known network or in contact with a particular individual. Attending an anti-US rally or meeting to hear an extremist preacher is not necessarily enough to get on the radar.

Perhaps 600 to 700 have gone to Syria or Iraq, and some of them have already come back. Yet at one time no more than several dozen, say 30 to 40 suspects, might be actively engaged in planning an attack in Britain or abroad.

Although MI5 now has a staff just short of 4,000 – more than double the number at the time of 9/11 – it can only hope to monitor effective 24/7 human and digital surveillance on this kind of number of high priority suspects. The question is how to identify the “critical few” when so many are moving in and out of their intelligence radar screen.”

I do not for a minute doubt the RCMP and CSIS when they say they are strapped for resources. Surveillance is resource intensive and we are overflowing with diversity.