In an address given at Queen Mary College Dame Eliza Manningham Buller, the Director-General of MI5, revealed the scale of the Islamist threat in the UK:
She has identified 200 terrorist networks involving at least 1,600 people, many under the direct control of al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan.
“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,” she said. “Young teenagers are being groomed to be suicide bombers.”
Dame Eliza said that she was alarmed by the “scale and speed” of the radicalisation, which security sources later said had intensified since the 7/7 bombings. “It is the youth who are being actively targeted, groomed, radicalised and set on a path that frighteningly quickly could end in their involvement in mass murder of their fellow citizens, or their early death in a suicide attack or on a foreign battlefield,” she said.
The head of MI5’s speech, which was approved by ministers, comes after recent warnings given by Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, and by Mr Reid. They both said that the terrorist threat would be long and enduring.