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'No plans to reduce GB threat level' for Northern Ireland-related terrorism

There are no plans to reduce the threat level from Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Great Britain despite the conviction of Royal Marine Ciaran Maxwell, according to security sources.

A significant haul of weapons - stashed by Maxwell in purpose-built caches in England and Northern Ireland - were recovered, but the security services believe dissident republican terrorists still have the arms and capability to launch a deadly attack in Britain.

The threat level from dissident republicans was raised from moderate to substantial in May last year, meaning an attack in England, Scotland or Wales is "a strong possibility".

Following the discovery of Maxwell's arms hides last year, police in Northern Ireland said a "major blow" had been dealt to the capabilities of dissident republicans.

However fresh intelligence suggests there are still a number of individuals and small groups who have the arms, knowledge and capabilities to strike.

A security source said: "The security threat remains the same. There are currently no immediate plans to reduce the threat level."

Maxwell's intended targets remain uncertain.

Police sources have described him as a "lone wolf".

He pleaded guilty last week to preparing for a terrorist attack by stashing explosives in purpose-built caches.

The 31-year-old, from Northern Ireland but living in Exminster, was arrested over the discovery of firearms, high explosives, chemicals and a range of improvised explosive devices.

He had compiled a library of terrorism documents, including instructions on how to make explosives, and tactics used by terrorist organisations.

He also had maps, plans and lists of potential targets for a terrorist attack and images of an adapted Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) pass card and a PSNI uniform.

He had also bought chemicals and components and used them to manufacture explosives and devices.

He is awaiting sentencing.

In December, Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire said police in Northern Ireland and MI5 were "unstinting in their work to counter the threat of violence and numerous dissident republican attacks have been prevented".

He added: "Although dissident republicans are overwhelmingly focused on carrying out attacks in Northern Ireland, there remains a need to be alert, aware and vigilant."

The level for dissident republican terrorism in Northern Ireland remains severe, meaning an attack is "highly likely".

Last year in the region there were four national security attacks, after 16 in 2015 and 40 in 2010.

The substantial threat level in Great Britain is lower than the threat to the entire UK from international terrorism.

This is set at severe, the second-highest of the five ratings.

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