Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Terrorist Risk to Britain Is Unprecedented Says MI5 Chief; Attempts to Attack UK 'At Highest since 9/11'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Terrorist Risk to Britain Is Unprecedented Says MI5 Chief; Attempts to Attack UK 'At Highest since 9/11'

Article excerpt

Byline: Martin Bentham Home Affairs Editor

BRITAIN is facing an "unprecedented" and growing terror threat as homegrown extremists, inspired by jihadis in Syria, become radicalised within weeks to attempt attacks here, the head of MI5 warned today.

Andrew Parker said that 15 attacks worldwide, including six in his country, had been foiled by British intelligence agencies during the past year as the number of terror plots rose to its highest level since 9/11.

Mr Parker, the director general of MI5, said that many of the attempted attacks were being "directed, enabled or supported" by Islamic State terrorists in Syria who were using social media to incite extremists living in this country.

He warned that technological changes were making it "increasingly difficult" to detect plots and that updated and "transparent" surveillance powers were needed to allow spies "to follow terrorists in cyberspace". Mr Parker Continued on Page 6 Islamist recruits radicalised via social media, says MI5 chief Continued from Page 1 also called for social media companies to show "ethical responsibility" by tipping off the authorities about terrorist communications on their sites.

His comments came in a statement on MI5's website and in an interview for BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

In wide-ranging remarks, he also dismissed as "completely untrue" claims that Mohammed Emwazi -- dubbed Jihadi John because of his actions in beheading hostages in Syria -- and Michael Adebolajo, one of the killers of Lee Rigby, had been radicalised by contact with MI5.

Mr Parker also addressed concerns that the large migrant flows across Europe could be exploited by terrorists seeking ways to enter this country, saying that this was not a "main focus of where the threat is coming from".

But he still gave a grim assessment of the situation facing the UK as he outlined the scale of the terror threat being tackled by his and the country's other security agencies. "The UK is facing an unprecedented level of threat," he said. "Over the past year there has been a growing threat in which we've seen six attempts at terrorism in this country. …

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