MI5 warns 9/11-style terrorist attack could happen again after rise of Taliban

Britain could face a "spectacular" terror attack like 9/11, according to the head of MI5.

Ken McCallum said the security service is concerned that with the West’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, terrorists will be able to come together to plan sophisticated operations targeting the UK.

Mr McCallum revealed on Friday (September 10) that 31 "late-stage" terror plots in Britain have been busted by MI5 and the police over past four years and six of them during the pandemic.

The MI5 director general said Taliban taking control of Afghanistan last month has "heartened and emboldened" extremists, Mail Online reports.

Mr McCallum told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: "The big concern flowing from Afghanistan, alongside the immediate inspirational effect, is the risk that terrorists reconstitute and once again pose us more in the way of well developed, sophisticated plots of the sort that we faced in 9/11 and the years thereafter.

"There is no doubt that recent 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 organisation is focused on, along with a range of other threats."

The majority of terrorism threats, he explained are from Islamist extremists but over recent years far-Right groups have added to the risks posed to national security.

Mr McCallum said the spread of Covid-19 has done little to halt the threat of terrorism in the UK which remains "a real and enduring thing".

He added: "We do face a consistent global struggle to defeat extremism and to guard against terrorism – this is a real problem. In the last four years, working with the police, my organisation has disrupted 31 late-stage attack plots in Great Britain.

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"That number includes mainly Islamist attack plots but also a growing number of attack plots from right wing terrorists.

"Even during the pandemic period which we have all been enduring for the past two years, we have had to disrupt six late-stage attack plots.

"So, the terrorist threat to the UK, I am sorry to say is a real and enduring thing".

On the day of 9/11 Mr McCallum remembers a colleague saying: "I guess we all know what we're going to be doing for the next 10 years of our lives".

Sadly they were right but MI5's chief says it has been "extremely motivating".

He said: "In the 20 years since we have faced wave after wave of terrorism from extremists seeking to cause mass casualties and prepared to give up their lives in the act – that is a horrifying reality but, by the same token, it is also extremely motivating for my organisation."

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