MI5 monitor 200 suspected UK terror cells

The head of MI5 has claimed that 200 terrorist groups and 1,600 individuals are under surveillance by the UK security service.

MI5 chief Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller said that security service are aware of 30 possible plots, and cautioned that the threat to UK security is "serious and growing."

Dame Eliza said: "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 speech from the usually reclusive MI5 chief comes just days after Dhiren Barot, 34, was convicted of planning terrorist attacks that included a radioactive 'dirty bomb.'

The Prime Minister said that he agreed with Dame Eliza's assessment that the terrorist threat could last a generation.

However, human rights groups have pointed out that despite over 1,000 arrests being made in connection with security service inquiries into alleged terrorist activities, only 27 people have been convicted to terrorist offences, nine were Muslims.

Following the 9/11 attacks MI5 staff levels have been expanded by almost 50% to around 2,800 staff, and MI5 will by 2008 be twice the size it was in September 2001.


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