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The intel war in Britain

Musa Khan Jalalzai

Intelligence unambiguously linked with defence and security provides a decisive advantage to law enforcement agencies and military commanders in times of war and peace. Some significant events in Europe and Asia recently occurred that left deep impacts on the evolving nature of EU intelligence cooperation on law enforcement level with the United Kingdom. Major Private and state intelligence agencies failed to intercept and disrupt the exponentially growing networks of radicalised groups and lone wolf attacks; for that reason the increasing number of dangers across borders could not reflect in their policies and strategies. The current waves of lone wolves attacks in EU are the most extensive and dangerous the continent has ever seen due to the massive increase in migrants in EU that caused insecurity and political pressure, while their involvement in recent terror-related attacks in Brussels, France, and Germany raised serious questions about the nature of their perceptions and resentments towards European values. Majority of people, who entered the EU and the UK, used false documents and information to hide their identity. Britain learnt a lot from these consecutive EU intelligence failures, and adopted an intelligence-led operational mechanism against terrorists and radicalised elements.
Recent trends in extremism, radicalisation and street crime in major cities in the UK can be judged from the fact that the arrival of numerous criminal gangs and radicalised elements from Asia, Europe and Africa during the last ten years painted a controversial picture of religious believes by which they are misleading the young generation to become part of their dirty business. The emergence of ISIS in Middles East and Gulf region, and the involvement of British citizens in the civil war in Syria and Iraq further endangered the peaceful environment in the country. In the presence of these extremist elements, the crisis of law and order management has become deep. Police commanders and law enforcement agencies have now tired to tackle the exponentially growing terror and criminal networks, lone wolves, and radicalisation with empty hands and a changing national security approach.
Every year, police chiefs, parliamentarians, law enforcement authorities and intelligence chiefs issue ear-splitting statement in which they blame either foreign states or non-state actor for their unwanted role in the deterioration of law and order in the country. This has now become a popular culture to distract and divert attention of critics from their inattention and failing security strategies. We understand the pain of the police department and its stakeholders vis-à-vis the deteriorating law and order, the emergence of new culture of violence, racism and foreign sponsored intelligence war in cities and towns, but one thing is clear that blame game, empty promises, ruckus, and unnecessary blankets of intelligence surveillance cannot help cure the exponentially growing pain and frustration of civilian population. To restore the confidence of citizens on the policing community or community policing, the involvement of communities in law enforcement process, professional security measures and technical approach is a constant need.
We are living in a society of races, colours and cultures, face spectre of violence, but we have failed to mix the colours and integrate all races into one. We still look at each other through tainted glasses, do not understand each other, do not purchase from another shops, and do not exchange views and thoughts. This is the basic challenge we face today. We have failed to manage the increasing population burden, violence, and so many other law enforcement challenges that deeply affected our social stratification. This gap of social interaction, cooperation and integration invites foreign powers to further divide our social system. Policing and intelligence officials recently acknowledged that Russia was waging a “campaign” of propaganda and unconventional warfare against Britain. They also blamed Russia for undermining Britain through fake espionage, misinformation, cyber attacks and fake news. Cabinet Office and intelligence circles also voiced the concerns about the exponentially growing Russian threat in a high level meeting two months ago, and the panacea they proposed to fix the hole was the strict and harrowing blanket of snoopers’ charter surveillance law that generated numerous controversies in print and electronic media across the country. On 21 December 2016, the EU’s highest court ruled against this law and said that the EU member states cannot force internet companies to keep email data on a “general discriminate” basis. During the last ten years, cyberspace has become a new theatre of war and one of the most important priorities in Russian interpretation. Russian understanding of cyberspace and Chinese military strategy in Asia and Europe generated a worldwide debate in print and electronic media that they want to openly challenge the US hegemonic power in Asia and Europe. Since his return to Presidency in 2012, Mr. Putin adopted a new violent cyber strategy and adorned its intelligence with modern information collection technology. To effectively respond to the consecutive Russian cyber war, in March 2016, Britain announced to set up National Cyber Security Centre in London, but it is yet unable to fully enter the information warfare.
In the United States, Russian President was also accused by the authorities of waging cyber war against the country. The US intelligence complained that Mr. Putin was directly involved in a Russian-led hacking campaign to influence the outcome of election. There are concerns that Russian spy agencies may have penetrated British companies and state institutions to collect important data.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach expressed the same concern in his media statement: “We need to pay more attention to counterespionage and counterintelligence to protect our hard-won research, protect our industry, and protect our competitive advantage”.
One time, Britain’s powerful intelligence agency (SIS) issued an unprecedented warning that Russian intelligence was targeting British spies and former agents in an aggressive way. On 08 March 2016, The Sunday Times reported a memo was sent to former employees and staff of the SIS, and warned business community that Russian intelligence will eliminate their business and recruit double agents to retrieve classified information. Before this unprecedented warning, on 16 January 2015, Financial Times published parts of the GCHQ report that warned of future cyber attacks on a financial sector. However, on 05 September 2016, the GCHQ Director Ian Lobban warned heads of big companies of cyber attacks, while Russian cyber forces warned of attacks to disrupt government departments and TV channel businesses.
All of these warnings and statements during the last two years are indicative of the frustration and irritation of British government and its law enforcement agencies vis-à-vis the imposed intelligence war in cyberspace. Security experts have put forward a proposal to the Prime Minister that a war cabinet must be set up to respond to the Russian intelligence war in Britain. On 17 December 2016, Telegraph reported Mr. Putin’s war game, his national defence centre, run by military officers. This centre has set an agenda to bring together hybrid weapons of media, economic, politics, cyber and dirty tricks to ensure all activities are carried out in pursuit of an agreed goal, such is the collapse of the European Union and NATO. On 17 July 2016, Daily Mail reported former GCHQ official warned that there are more Russian spies trying to gather intelligence information in Britain than at the height of the cold war. However, John Bayliss said that Russian intelligence use code to mobile phones and monitor calls.



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