07/01/2009

Terror Threat Has 'Chilled', Says MI5 Boss

Britain's top spook has claimed the success rate of criminal prosecutions against extremists has diminished the terror threat on UK soil.

MI5 boss Jonathan Evans said terrorists have been "chilled" by the number of comrades who have been convicted by the courts, and handed down lengthy jail terms.

The intelligence chief took the unusual step of speaking to the press to mark the one-hundredth anniversary of MI5.

Mr Evans warned that al-Qaeda is still determined to carry out major attacks in the UK, and retains the capabilities to do so.

According to the Director-General the global economic turmoil could create new threats to the UK.

"Our focus in the next few years will be international terrorism, al-Qaeda and its associates, but we are also looking at the global economic crisis," Mr Evans said in an interview with newspapers.

"Where there have been watershed moments, there have often been national security implications from that - a new alignment.

"We have to maintain flexibility and respond to threats. The world will not stay the same."

Mr Evans suggested terrorists who launched the Mumbai attacks in November, last year, had indirect links to UK terror cells.

According to the intelligence expert, Pakistan and Afghanistan have crucial importance in relation to protecting Britain.

Mr Evans revealed 75% of MI5's investigations had connections with Pakistan.

However, home-grown terrorist have been forced to "keep their heads down" following recent developments, according to Mr Evans.

He highlighted 86 successful prosecutions in terror trials since January 2007, and the fact that in more than half of these cases the accused pleaded guilty.

(PR/JM)

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