8 Jan 2015

MI5 chief warns serious terror threat to continue ‘for some time’

MI5’s spy chief has warned of a ‘long haul’ in the fight against Islamist inspired terrorism.


The agency’s director general Andrew Parker painted a bleak picture of the sustained threat facing the UK, with 600 British extremists now known to have travelled to Syria, a 20 per cent increase from six months ago.

He also revealed more than 20 plots have been directed or provoked by Syrian based extremists in the past 15 months.

Read more: Britons in Syria

​His assessment was part of a speech given to experts and academics inside the intelligence agency’s HQ last night in which he described the Paris attack as a “terrible reminder of the intentions of those who wish us harm.”

He told the audience: “We face a very serious threat level that is complex to combat and unlikely to abate significantly for some time”.

He said the “number of crude but potentially deadly plots from ‘volatile individuals’ has increased, with the more complex, ambitious plots directed by Al Qaeda groups from abroad still a threat.”

He repeated warnings from last year’s speech that technology changes is making it harder for MI5 to keep track of internet communications between terrorists.

He said “if parts of the radar go dark and terrorists are confident that they are beyond the reach of MI5 and GCHQ, acting with proper legal warrant, then our ability to keep the country safe is also reduced.”

​In the face of growing public concern over state surveillance and privacy, Mr Parker said MI5 only focuses on the tiniest minority who actually present a threat and does not browse through the private lives of the general population.

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