MI5 foiled 31 'late-stage' terror attack plots against the UK in past four years and six during pandemic


MI5 foiled 31 ‘late-stage’ terror at-tack plots against the UK in past four years and six during pandemic

MI5 foiled 31 “late-stage” terror at-tack plots against the UK in the past four years and six during the pandemic, the secret service’s director general said. 

With the 20th anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday, Ken McCallum said the threat of terrorism in the UK remains “a real and enduring thing”.

“We do face a consistent global struggle to defeat extremism and to guard against terrorism – this is a real problem,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.

“In the last four years, working with the police, my organisation has disrupted 31 late-stage at-tack plots in Great Britain.

“That number includes mainly Islamist at-tack plots but also a growing number of at-tack plots from right wing terrorists.”

Mr McCallum added that threats had not been diminished by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Even during the pandemic period which we have all been enduring for the past two years, we have had to disrupt six late-stage at-tack plots,” he said.

“So, the ter-rorist threat to the UK, I am sorry to say is a real and enduring thing.”

Mr McCallum said that although more directed plots from ter-rorist organisations take time to organise and carry out, psychological boosts for their causes could happen “overnight”.

“ter-rorist threats tend not to change overnight in the sense of directed plotting or training camps or infrastructure – the sorts of things that al-Qaeda enjoyed in Afghanistan at the time of 9/11,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.

“These things do inherently take time to build, and the 20-year effort to reduce the ter-rorist threat from Afghanistan has been largely successful.

“But what does happen overnight, even though those directed plots and centrally organised bits of terrorism take a bit longer to rebuild… Overnight, you can have a psychological boost, a morale boost to extremists already here, or in other countries.

“So we need to be vigilant both for the increase in inspired terrorism which has become a real trend for us to deal with over the last five to 10 years, alongside the potential regrowth of al Qaeda-style directed plots.”

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