Terror plot foiled in its final few hours after spooks hack attackers phones and emails.
In another case study the report tells how during the Afghan campaign a 50-strong team at GCHQ mounted a massive operation to help the SAS rescue Western hostages held by the Taliban.
The report goes on: This work enabled GCHQ to locate the group, monitor it and establish the group’s links with known terrorist networks.
Within 72 hours of the kidnapping, the hostages had been located. Analysis of the content of the communications of the kidnappers, obtained through bulk interception, indicated that the hostages’ lives were in imminent danger.
This information was passed swiftly to a COBRA meeting and the Prime Minister authorised a rescue attempt by UK military forces. The hostages were subsequently successfully rescued.
The report concludes that bulk data collection powers “play an important part in identifying, understanding and averting threats in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and further afield” and must be retained.
It was warmly welcomed by Prime Minister Theresa May , who has been pushing for extra powers for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ through her controversial Snooper’s Charter now rebranded as the Investigatory Powers Bill.
It is currently making its way through Parliament and will be debated in the House of Lords later this year.
Mr Anderson’s report demonstrates how the bulk powers contained in the Investigatory Powers Bill are of crucial importance to our security and intelligence agencies, the PM said.
These powers often provide the only means by which our agencies are able to protect the British public from the most serious threats that we face. It is vital that we retain them.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Andy Burnham also welcomed the report but urged Mrs May to accept Mr Anderson’s recommendation that a special panel be set up to ensure spy laws keep pace with changing technology.