– British media reports jihadist sympathizers infiltrated UK security services and public utilities
– Sympathetic insiders can provide jihadist cells with a number of important advantages
– Public organizations and private companies may wish to monitor their employees for signs of radicalization
According to British media reports, jihadist sympathizers have infiltrated British security services and public utilities. Further, MI5 sources state jihadist sympathizers have attempted to join the British security services including Scotland Yard.
Sources in the British security services also claim that jihadist operatives have previously planned on recruiting a “sympathetic insider” to facilitate an attack. Additionally, exiled cleric Omar Bakri previously stated that police departments and public utilities in the United Kingdom currently employed a number of jihadist sympathizers.
The previous targeting of various components of British public infrastructure including the London Underground, Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport, and British Telecom elucidate the threat posed by malicious insiders. To this end, a well-placed “sympathetic insider” could have altered the outcome of failed attacks or could have increased the effectiveness of successful attacks.
Previous examples of potentially malicious insiders include the purported “lyrical terrorist”, Samina Malik, a 23-year-old shop assistant at Heathrow Airport. While Malik was not known to be associated with any active terror plots against Heathrow, her access to the airport could possibly have been used to plan attacks on the airport .
As illustrated by a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operative who pleaded guilty to conspiracy of illegally searching Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) computers for classified information about Hezbollah and naturalization fraud, this case is not necessarily exclusive to the UK.
The Insider Advantage
Malicious insiders could potentially use their trusted access to
– Gain physical access to a target
– Gather intelligence on a target
– Conduct counter surveillance to determine if security services are aware of an ongoing plot
While jihadist operatives could gather valuable intelligence from other sources to mount an attack, physical access to the target is of immeasurable value and may increase the chances of success. As such, a malicious insider likely increases the chances of launching a successful attack and is therefore of great interest to jihadist cells intent on conducting violent operations.
Monitoring the Threat
Unfortunately creating an improved vetting and screening process for new employees is unlikely to prevent a malicious insider from gaining access. Current employees could also pose a threat as they are subject to religious and ideological radicalization or simply the promise of monetary compensation. As such, public and private employers alike must remain vigilant and monitor their employees for signs of radicalization.