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The UK and international terrorism: new MI5 Director General gives his views

MI5's new Director General, Andrew Parker, who took on the role in April 2013, has given his first published speech. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute, Mr. Parker majored on the threat of international terrorism to the UK and MI5’s work in preventing attacks.

Mr. Parker’s speech included the following points:

  • MI5 deals with threats and dangers “all day every day” but “lethal terrorist attacks in the UK remain rare. MI5 and partners have a long track record of detecting and preventing most attempts.”
  • Since 2000, there have been serious attempts at major acts of terrorism in the UK typically once or twice a year. “That feels to me, for the moment, unlikely to change,” said Mr. Parker. “While that tempo seems reasonably even, the ground we have to cover has increased as the threat has become more diversified.”
  • •Al Qaida and its affiliates in South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula present the most direct and immediate threats to the UK. For the future, there is good reason to be concerned about Syria … Al Nusrah and other extremist Sunni groups there aligned with Al Qaida aspire to attack Western countries.
  • The ability of Al Qaida to launch the centrally directed large scale attacks of the last decade has been degraded, though not removed. We have seen the threat shift more to increasing numbers of smaller-scale attacks and a growing proportion of groups and individuals taking it upon themselves to commit acts of terrorism. It remains the case that there are several thousand Islamist extremists [in the UK] who see the British people as a legitimate target.
  • “Overall,” said Mr. Parker, “I do not believe the terrorist threat is worse now than before. But it is more diffuse. More complicated. More unpredictable.”

For the full text of the speech, click here.

•Date: 9th October 2013 • UK •Type: Article • Topic: Terrorism

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