The head of MI5 has warned that Islamic State are planning mass casualty attacks in Britain, some however have accused him of simply attempting to gain new powers for his department.
MI5 is the United Kingdom’s domestic counter-intelligence and security agency. Its remit includes the protection of British parliamentary democracy and economic interests, counter-terrorism and counter-espionage within the UK. Although mainly concerned with internal security, it does have an overseas role in support of its mission.
MI5 director general Andrew Parker said the current level of threat was the highest he had seen in a career spanning 32 years, and that the danger from domestic jihadis showed no sign of abating.
“We are seeing plots against the UK directed by terrorists in Syria, enabled through contacts with terrorists in Syria and inspired online by Isil’s sophisticated exploitation of technology.
On top of that, in a range of attacks in Europe and elsewhere, this year we have seen greater ambition for mass casualty attacks. All of this means that the threat we are facing today is on a scale and at a tempo that I have not seen before in my career.”
Some are not convinced, Sky News’s political correspondent Robert Nisbet accused Parker of “frantic spadework” ahead of the government’s investigatory powers bill.
Andrew Parker said the service was not seeking “sweeping new intrusive powers” but rather a framework that “reflects the way that technology has moved on”.
A draft bill updating state surveillance powers is due next week.