Record high of more than 700 live terror probes are running in the UK

Top counter-terror cop Neil Basu told MPs that around 80 per cent of the inquiries related to Islamist plots, while the remainder included extreme right-wing conspiracies.

He said his greatest concern remained “simple attacks on softer targets that are cheap to mount, easy to disguise and therefore harder to see and stop”.

Police and the security services have stopped 17 terror attacks since March last year — 13 Islamist and four extreme right-wing.

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Mr Basu referred to attacks in London and Manchester last year, which claimed 36 lives and left scores injured.

He told the Home Affairs Select Committee those attacks were not a temporary escalation but a sustained shift in the terror threat.

He added: “The UK CT (counter-terrorism) machine to this day continues to run red hot.”

Calling for longer-term funding for the fight against terrorism, he said the battle was dependent on well-resourced local police forces.

He said: “I would like to tell you that we are matched to the current threat, but the reality is we are not.”

Mr Basu described how perverse Islamist and right-wing ideologies were “feeding each other”.

He said that while the overriding threat to the UK was from IS and al-Qaeda-inspired activity, the extreme far-right danger was growing. Mr Basu was asked about hate preacher Anjem Choudary, who was released from prison last week.

He said: “Every minute that we spend having to look at somebody like that is a minute taken away from a priority operation. So it is not a great position to be in.”

Choudary was convicted of inviting IS support and jailed in 2016.

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