MI5 chief accuses UK Muslims of posing terror threat
The director general of Britain’s domestic spying apparatus MI5 has accused the country’s Muslim community of posing threat to what he describes as ‘the British public’.
In his first public address since being appointed to head the UK Security Service in April, Andrew Parker linked the British Muslim community with al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Pakistan and Yemen, alleging that “these people present the most direct and immediate threats to the UK”.
Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute in Whitehall, the MI5 chief strongly defended the spying agencies’ techniques used to collect information, adding that the security services must have access to the many means of communication which terrorists now use.
He acknowledged that the growth of the internet and associated technologies was “transforming our society” and that there are hard choices to be made to tackle and track terrorism in the new world.
Parker did not conceal his frustration with the former CIA contractor Edward Snowden, who unveiled parts of secret works the UK and U.S. spying systems were doing in breach of the basic right of the nations’ to privacy.
The MI5 chief claimed secret data contained in some 58,000 files from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), exposed to the public by Snowden, had helped the Security Services to stop many terrorists plots in the UK over the past decade.
Parker warned that threats to the UK are growing more diverse and diffuse.
“It remains the case that there are several thousand Islamist extremists here who see the British public as a legitimate target”, he claimed.
Parker said 330 people had been convicted of terrorism-related offences in Britain between 11 September 2001 and 31 March 2013.