MI5 Chief In Terror Warning

The head of MI5 has given a chilling assessment of the scale of the terror threat in the UK. Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller said the Security Service was dealing with up to 30 alleged “mass casualty” terror plots against British targets in the UK and abroad, according to BBC reports.

Some of them involved plans for suicide attacks and some were being directed by al Qaida. And she said that MI5 and the police were tackling 200 groups or networks totalling more than 1,600 identified individuals in the UK who were “actively engaged in plotting or facilitating terrorist acts”.

Dame Eliza’s assessment came in her first public speech since the July 7 terror attacks last year, to an invited audience of academics in east London.

The BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner, who was in the audience, told Radio 4’s The World Tonight that she warned of the prospect that weapons of mass destruction could be used in future terror attacks in the UK.

“Today we see the use of home-made improvised explosive devices, but I suggest tomorrow’s threat will include the use of chemicals, bacteriological agents, radioactive materials and even nuclear technology,” she said.

Dame Eliza told her audience that MI5’s caseload of UK-based terror sympathisers – many of them British citizens – had increased by 80% since January, reported the BBC.

She voiced concern that many of those involved were young men and teenagers as young as 16, who were being radicalised by friends and by material viewed on the internet.

She quoted statistics suggesting that there was widespread sympathy for terrorism within Britain.

“If the opinion polls conducted in the UK since July are only broadly accurate, over 100,000 of our citizens consider that the July bomb attacks in London were justified,” she said.