MORE than 500 British Islamic extremists are planning terror strikes in the UK, according to secret figures obtained by the Daily Mirror.
Some of the jihadists, who are being watched by MI5 and counter-terror police, have already obtained bomb-making materials.
The figure, which fluctuates between 450 and 550, represents the number of monthly live investigations carried out by undercover spooks at any one time.
A counter-terror source said: “Make no mistake these people represent extremely serious threats to UK citizens – the threat of a mass atrocity committed against the public is real.
“Some of them not only have the intent but the material needed to carry out that intent and they represent the most serious threat.”
Some would-be terrorists under surveillance are potential “lone wolf” bombers. These are the most difficult to monitor because they do not talk about their plans.
And a small number are being watched by intelligence officers abroad as they are planning attacks on British interests overseas.
The Government is spending more money to uncover terror plans, like the attack on Glasgow airport and the “Blackburn Resistance” plot, than ever before.
MI5 is funded by the Treasury’s Single Intelligence Account – which has soared to £2billion in 2010/11. It also funds MI6 and GCHQ.
The budget for all three agencies will go up by £1billion next year and remain at that level until at least 2015.
The number of MI5 employees has gone up by around 1,500 to 3,800 since the 9/11 attacks although a further increase of 400 has been put on hold due to cutbacks.
The Tiny Minority of Extremists: it just never seems to get tinier.