(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. foiled 31 “late-stage” terrorist plots in the past four years, the chief of the country’s domestic intelligence agency said as he highlighted the risks posed by the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
MI5 chief Ken McCallum’s revelation emphasizes the scale of the problem still faced by security services as they seek to protect the British public two decades after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.
“We do face a consistent global struggle to defeat extremism and to guard against terrorism,” McCallum said. “The terrorist threat to the U.K., I am sorry to say, is a real and enduring thing,” he told BBC Radio on Friday. ”While the recent plots have been “mainly Islamist extremist” there’s also been a “growing number of attack plots from extremist right wing terrorists.”
McCallum also said also “there is no doubt that recent events in Afghanistan will have heartened and emboldened some of those extremists.”
“Overnight you can have a psychological boost, a morale boost to extremists already here or in other countries, so we need to be vigilant,” he said. “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.”
In the period since the pandemic began, there have been six late-stage plans, he explained. “The numbers of plots we disrupt nowadays are actually higher than the numbers of plots which were coming at us after 9/11, but on average, they are smaller plots of lower sophistication.”
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