Taliban return likely to have emboldened terrorists, threat of a 9/11 style attack remains alive: UK spy chief
MI5 Director General Ken McCallum told BBC there was greater need to be vigilant as there could be a "morale boost" for extremists after recent developments in Afghanistan
The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is likely to have emboldened terrorists and means that the threat of a 9/11 style terrorist attack remains alive, warned Britain's spy chief on Friday.
MI5 Director General Ken McCallum told the BBC that there was greater need to be vigilant as there could be a "morale boost" for extremists as a result of developments in Afghanistan as the US-led NATO troops withdrew last month.
He also revealed that the UK's police and intelligence services had foiled 31 late-stage terror attack plots against the country in the past four years.
"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," said McCallum.
"Overnight you can have a psychological boost or 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, that we saw more commonly some years ago," he said.
"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, along with a range of other threats," the spy chief said.
"While the majority of terror threats came from Islamist extremists, a growing number are also from organised far-right groups; so the terrorist threat to the UK, I am sorry to say, is a real and enduring thing," he added.
Speaking to the BBC on the eve of the Al Qaeda-led September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the US, the British intelligence chief said the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group had managed to do something that Al Qaeda did not, which was to inspire lots of people to attempt smaller scale acts of terrorism.
Threats from terrorism are "part of our lives at this time in history" and will remain with us "for quite some time to come", he said.