Former MI5 chief warns of “Islamist” terror threat for 20-30 years

The UK may continue to face the threat of so-called “Islamist terrorism” for another “20 to 30 years,” the former head of the domestic intelligence service MI5 has said.

Lord Evans told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the issue was a “generational problem” and that the UK needed to “persevere” with efforts to defeat it.

Lord Evans stepped down as the director general of MI5 in 2013 at a time when the terrorism threat from al-Qaeda seemed to be subsiding with terrorist groups more focussed on the Arab world than on the West.

But now, with the rise of ISIS, he said the threat was unlikely to end soon.

Lord Evans said: “There’s no doubt that we are still facing a severe terrorist threat but I think its also important to put this in a slightly longer context because right the way back from the 1990s we have been experiencing difficulties from Islamist terrorists of one sort or another. Over that period the threat has come and gone but the underlying threat has continued.

“Since 2013 there have been 19 attempted attacks that have been disrupted and even since the attack at Westminster we are told there have been six disruptions, so this is a permanent state of preparedness.”

He added: “We’re at least 20 years into this. My guess is that we will still be dealing with the long tail in over 20 years’ time. I think this is genuinely a generational problem. I think we are going to be facing 20 to 30 years of terrorist threat and therefore we need, absolutely critically, to persevere.”

Several British Muslim organisations have consistently appealed to the government to address its own interventionist foreign policy in the Muslim world and its targeting of the Muslim community through counter terror measures as part of a series of measures to deal with the terrorist threat. But thus far it appears that those appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

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