The Arab Spring has spawned a new generation of British-born terrorists after al-Qaeda lured dozens of would-be bombers abroad to train for possible attacks on the UK, the head of MI5 warned.
British would-be jihadis are known to be receiving training in the likes of Libya and Egypt, mirroring what has already happened in the Yemen and Somalia.
And they could return to attack the UK in what is a “new and worrying development”, he said.
Mr Evans, the Director General of MI5, warned of the emerging threats in a rare speech, his first in almost two years.
In his talk, he:
“Revealed that the intelligence services and police are preparing for a potential threat from extremists and even lone wolf terrorists should the Eurozone collapse.”
“Suggested a potential return to State-sponsored terrorism by Iran.”
“Said it would be “extraordinary and self-defeating” if the Government’s proposed new email and phone snooping powers did not go ahead.”
“Popular revolts across Arab nations were last year welcomed around the world and resulted in, among others, the end of Hosni Mubarak’s reign in Egypt and Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya.”
Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, described events at the time as “incredibly exciting”.
But in the inaugural Lord Mayor’s Annual Defense and Security Lecture in London on the 24th, Mr Evans warned a new terror threat has emerged from an “Arab world in radical transition”.
“Today parts of the Arab world have once more become a permissive environment for al-Qaeda.
“This is the completion of a cycle – al-Qaeda first moved to Afghanistan in the 1990s due to pressure in their Arab countries of origin. They moved on to Pakistan after the fall of the Taliban.”
“And now some are heading home to the Arab world again. And a small number of British would be jihadis are also making their way to Arab countries to seek training and opportunities for militant activity, as they do in Somalia and Yemen.
“Some will return to the UK and pose a threat here. This is a new and worrying development and could get worse as events unfold.”
Attribution: Tom Whitehead, UK Telegraph