Britain’s MI5 chief warns al Qaeda planning mass attacks on West
LONDON (Reuters) – Al Qaeda militants in Syria are plotting attacks to inflict mass casualties in the West, possibly against transport systems or “iconic targets”, the head of Britain’s MI5 Security Service said on Thursday.
Speaking after gunmen killed 12 people in an assault on a French satirical newspaper, MI5 boss Andrew Parker warned a strike on the United Kingdom was highly likely. “A group of core al Qaeda terrorists in Syria is planning mass casualty attacks against the West,” Director General Parker said in a rare public speech at MI5 headquarters in London. His last public speech was in October 2013.
In the speech, planned before the killings in Paris, Parker said seasoned al Qaeda militants in Syria aimed to “cause large-scale loss of life, often by attacking transport systems or iconic targets” in the West. Islamic State militants in Syria were plotting attacks on Britain and making sophisticated use of social media to incite British nationals to carry out violence, Parker said.
“My sharpest concern as Director General of MI5 is the growing gap between the increasingly challenging threat and the decreasing availability of capabilities to address it,” he said.
Twitter and Facebook are so important to militants that technology giants should give security services greater access to their networks, the head of Britain’s GCHQ eavesdropping agency said last year.
“The dark places from where those who wish us harm can plot and plan are increasing,” Parker said. “We need to be able to access communications and obtain relevant data on those people when we have good reason.”
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