The head of the UK’s MI5 intelligence agency on Friday said the Taliban victory in Afghanistan is a major boost for extremists around the world and that the terrorist threat to the UK is “real and enduring.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Director General Ken McCallum said that although the terror threat to the UK would not change overnight, the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban would most certainly embolden extremists groups such as Daesh/ISIS and al-Qaeda to carry out more attacks in the foreseeable future.
“There is no doubt that 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 organization is focused on along with a range of other threats. The terrorist threat to the UK, I am sorry to say, is a real and an enduring thing,” he said.
“Terrorist 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. These things do inherently take time to build, and the 20-year effort to reduce the terrorist threat from Afghanistan has been largely successful.”
McCallum said a total of 31 attack plots in the last four years had been foiled in the UK, including six during the period of the coronavirus pandemic.
The British government has said it will judge the Taliban over their actions on how they rule the country with importance given to human rights.
The security service, however, will continue to plan for any risks that may come from the consequences of Taliban rule.
“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,” the MI5 chief said.
Last month, the Taliban retook Afghanistan in a lightning offensive that saw the Afghan government and its 300,000 strong NATO-trained military collapses in less than two weeks.
The group has now formed an interim government, with many of the old guards retaining high positions. However, no women were included in the 33-member Cabinet.
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