And it is probably a gross exaggeration of the threat. But at least there is an acknowledgement that the Muslim world may have a beef, whereas such an admission would never appear in the American MSM.
“THE INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST THREAT TO THE UK”
SPEECH BY THE DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE SECURITY SERVICE, DAME ELIZA MANNINGHAM-BULLER, AT QUEEN MARY’S COLLEGE, LONDON, 9 NOVEMBER 2006
I have been Director General of the Security Service (MI5) since 2002. Before that I was Deputy Director General for five years. During that time, and before, I have witnessed a steady increase in the terrorist threat to the UK. It has been the subject of much comment and controversy. I rarely speak in public. I prefer to avoid the limelight and get on with my job. But today, I want to set out my views on the realities of the terrorist threat facing the UK in 2006; what motivates those who pose that threat; and what my Service is doing, with others, to counter it.
I speak not as a politician, nor as a pundit, but as someone who has been an intelligence professional for 32 years.
Five years on from 9/11, where are we? Speaking in August, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, the head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch of the Metropolitan Police, described the threat to the UK from Al-Qaida-related terrorism as “real, here, deadly and enduring”. Only last week the Home Secretary said the threat will be “enduring – the struggle will be long and wide and deep.” Let me describe more fully why I think they said that.
We now know that the first Al-Qaida-related plot against the UK was the one we discovered and disrupted in November 2000 in Birmingham. A British citizen is currently serving a long prison sentence for plotting to detonate a large bomb in the UK. Let there be no doubt about this: the international terrorist threat to this country is not new. It began before Iraq, before Afghanistan, and before 9/11.
In the years after 9/11, with atrocities taking place in Madrid, Casablanca, Bali, Istanbul and elsewhere, terrorists plotted to mount a string of attacks in the UK, but were disrupted. This run of domestic success was interrupted tragically in London in July 2005. Since then, the combined efforts of my Service, the police, SIS and GCHQ have thwarted a further five major conspiracies in the UK, saving many hundreds (possibly even thousands) of lives.
Last month the Lord Chancellor said that there were a total of 99 defendants awaiting trial in 34 cases. Of course the presumption of innocence applies and the law dictates that nothing must be said or done which might prejudice the right of a defendant to receive a fair trial. You will understand therefore that I can say no more on these matters.
What I can say is that today, my officers and the police are working to contend with some 200 groupings or networks, totalling over 1600 identified individuals (and there will be many we don’t know) who are actively engaged in plotting, or facilitating, terrorist acts here and overseas. The extremists are motivated by a sense of grievance and injustice driven by their interpretation of the history between the West and the Muslim world. This view is shared, in some degree, by a far wider constituency. If the opinion polls conducted in the UK since July 2005 are only broadly accurate, over 100,000 of our citizens consider that the July 2005 attacks in London were justified.
What we see at the extreme end of the spectrum are resilient networks, some directed from Al-Qaida in Pakistan, some more loosely inspired by it, planning attacks including mass casualty suicide attacks in the UK. Today we see the use of home-made improvised explosive devices; tomorrow’s threat may include the use of chemicals, bacteriological agents, radioactive materials and even nuclear technology. More and more people are moving from passive sympathy towards active terrorism through being radicalised or indoctrinated by friends, families, in organised training events here and overseas, by images on television, through chat rooms and websites on the Internet.
The propaganda machine is sophisticated and Al-Qaida itself says that 50% of its war is conducted through the media. In Iraq, attacks are regularly videoed and the footage downloaded onto the Internet within 30 minutes. Virtual media teams then edit the result, translate it into English and many other languages, and package it for a worldwide audience. And, chillingly, we see the results here. Young teenagers being groomed to be suicide bombers.
We are aware of numerous plots to kill people and to damage our economy. What do I mean by numerous? Five? Ten? No, nearer thirty – that we know of. These plots often have links back to Al-Qaida in Pakistan and through those links Al-Qaida gives guidance and training to its largely British foot soldiers here on an extensive and growing scale. And it is not just the UK of course. Other countries also face a new terrorist threat: from Spain to France to Canada and Germany.
A word on proportionality. My Service and the police have occasionally been accused of hype and lack of perspective or worse, of deliberately stirring up fear. It is difficult to argue that there are not worse problems facing us, for example climate change… and of course far more people are killed each year on the roads than die through terrorism. It is understandable that people are reluctant to accept assertions that do not always appear to be substantiated. It is right to be sceptical about intelligence. I shall say more about that later.
We have added the emphasis above. Read the rest of her address here.