Commander Dean Haydon, Head of SO15 Counter-Terrorism Command for London & International Operations, Metropolitan Police Service, United Kingdom
The session was part of the ICT's 16th World Summit on Counter-Terrorism: "Unpuzzling Terrorism". Commander Haydon discussed the terrorist threat to the UK in general. While noting the threats the online world poses, Haydon focused on home-grown attacks and domestic extremism, highlighting the need of the international community to adapt counter-terror measures to attacks carried out by radicalized individuals as well as the need to share this information.
The presentation by Commander Haydon reflected the UK’s experience in facing terrorism threats in general, with a special emphasis in regards to London. At first, Haydon elaborated on online threats. Modern internet connects people with different backgrounds and different ideas. It also serves as a propaganda platform for instructing people in committing violent acts. For instance, Islamic State and Al-Qaeda magazines (Dabiq, Inspire) explain how to create a bomb. Another purpose of online propaganda is to inspire people to travel abroad as foreign fighters.
Haydon noted that alongside the online threat, the UK is also dealing with home-grown attacks and domestic extremism. A significant increase in hate crimes has been noted in the aftermath of Brexit. The UK’s fight against terrorism is embedded in the ‘4P Strategy’ – Prevent, Pursue, Protect and Prepare. The national counter-terrorism police structure and delivery vary from the local to the national level, and on the top of that is the international network. The UK has developed a scale signaling the possibility of attack, from low chance to imminent attack.
The current challenge, not only to the UK but also for the international community, is the adaptation of counter-terrorism strategies and intelligence services to the attacks committed by radicalized individuals. Commander Haydon outlined the successful operations by the police to thwart attempted attacks – Operation Exactness and Operation Greyhead. He also discussed the problem of foreign fighters; more than 850 people have left the UK and travelled to Syria in order to support local disorder.
Haydon concluded his speech by highlighting the importance of sharing information in the fight against terrorism. He presented a quote to emphasis the importance of international cooperation in combating violent acts: ‘we need to be lucky every time, the terrorists only need to be lucky once’.