An attack in the United Kingdom is “highly likely”, warns top British security official, adding that it may be impossible to thwart it.
Britain’s MI5 Security Service director warned last week that Al-Qaeda, operating out of Syria, is planning a massive terror attack on Western targets, possibly against transport systems or “iconic targets,” Reuters reports.
Speaking on Thursday after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in which a Muslim terrorist killed 12 in Paris, MI5 chief Andrew Parker warned that an attack in the United Kingdom was “highly likely.”
“A group of core al Qaeda terrorists in Syria is planning mass casualty attacks against the West,” Reuters quotes Parker as saying in a rare public speech at MI5 headquarters in London. The speech was planned ahead of the attack and coincided with the tragic event.
Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people by attacking the United States with hijacked passenger planes on September 11, 2001. Muslim terrorists inspired by the group killed 52 commuters in London on July 7, 2005, with suicide bombs.
Al-Qaeda, in the latest edition of its Inspire magazine, called on “lone wolves” to attack popular Western airlines in order to kill as many people as possible, to “crush the enemy’s economy” and to bring publicity to the terror organization.
Al-Qaeda’s power seems to have dwindled since the death of Osama Bin-laden and the advent of other Islamic terror groups, but European and American security agencies are worried that Al-Qaeda has shifted its base of operations from Pakistan to Syria and from there are plotting a major attack against Western objectives. Intelligence agencies are finding it difficult to monitor terror activities in Syria because of the chaos and civil war that has torn the country apart in recent years.
Security agencies are further worried by the threat posed by Western fighters who have joined the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) terror organization and who return home to establish terror networks in their respective countries.
The Kouachi brothers who committed the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris were reportedly trained by Al-Qaeda in Yemen, and Amedy Coulibaly, who murdered four Jews in a Paris supermarket the next day, was affiliated with ISIS.
A recent CIA report indicates that at least 2,000 Westerners are estimated to have joined fighting in Iraq and Syria, with at least 500 from the UK and more than 700 from France.
Parker said that MI5 has tracked 600 British Muslims who traveled to Syria to join ISIS, adding that ISIS was using social media to incite British nationals to carry out attacks.
Attack May Not Be Stoppable
MI5 has stopped three potentially deadly “terrorist plots” against the United Kingdom in recent months, Parker said. He did not reveal their nature or scope.
“We face a very serious level of threat that is complex to combat and unlikely to abate significantly for some time,” he said, arguing strongly for more surveillance powers to spy on Islamic terror communications on the Internet, Reuters reports.
Parker stressed that the security services need to gain access to such communications. “My sharpest concern as director general of MI5 is the growing gap between the increasingly challenging threat and the decreasing availability of capabilities to address it,” he said.
“The dark places from where those who wish us harm can plot and plan are increasing,” Parker said. “We need to be able to access communications and obtain relevant data on those people when we have good reason.”
In late September, ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani called on Muslims in the US and Europe to attack members of the military: “Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict. Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military, for they have the same ruling. Both of them are disbelievers. Both of them are considered to be waging war.”
By: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel
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