MI5 chief warns Britain could face a ‘spectacular’ attack like 9/11 after Afghanistan withdrawal as he reveals 31 ‘late stage’ plots to attack the UK have been thwarted in four years
- MI5 head Ken McCallum has warned of the current threat posed by terrorists
- He said MI5 and the police have foiled 31 ‘late-state’ terror plots over past 4 years
- He said the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan has ’emboldened’ Islamic terrorists
- He also said there is a growing threat posed by domestic far-right terrorists
The head of MI5 has warned that Britain could face a ‘spectacular’ attack like 9/11 after the West’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Ken McCallum said the security service was concerned that terrorists would be able to regroup and plan sophisticated operations targeting the UK.
Yesterday he revealed that MI5 and the police have thwarted 31 ‘late-stage’ plots to attack Britain in the past four years, including six during the pandemic.
Head of MI5 Ken McCallum, pictured, has revealed the security services and police have foiled 31 ‘late-state’ terror plots over the past four years
He said he fears Britain could suffer its own 9/11 attack. It is believed two plots have been foiled in recent weeks
Two of those plots are thought to have been disrupted in recent weeks. The MI5 director general said the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan had ‘heartened and emboldened’ extremists.
Mr McCallum recalled the thwarted 2006 transatlantic airline plot to detonate liquid explosives on seven aircraft taking off from Heathrow, saying plots of that ‘spectacular’ magnitude had been less common due to 20-year effort to combat the terrorist threat from Afghanistan.
He told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme ahead of today’s 9/11 anniversary: ‘The big concern flowing from Afghanistan, alongside the immediate inspirational effect, is the risk that terrorists reconstitute and once again pose us more in the way of well developed, sophisticated plots of the sort that we faced in 9/11 and the years thereafter.’
He added: ‘There is no doubt that recent events in Afghanistan will have heartened and emboldened some of those extremists, and so being vigilant to precisely those kinds of risks is what my organisation is focused on, along with a range of other threats.’
He said Islamist extremists posed the greatest problem, but a growing number of threats were from far-Right groups.
The former head of the UK armed forces General Lord Richards also raised the prospect of ‘another 9/11’ yesterday, saying ‘ungoverned spaces have opened up’ in Afghanistan which terrorists would be able to ‘exploit’.
And former PM Tony Blair said governments must take action against the Taliban if they again allow the country to become a base for terrorism.