A senior officer from the External intelligence service, MI6, has warned that Britain faces a “generational” problem from home-grown terrorists who are off the radar of intelligence services, according to secret documents revealed Friday.
The warning came in a briefing of US congressmen who visited the UK in 2008 and was contained in a cache of American diplomatic cables obtained by whistleblowing website WikiLeaks and passed to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
The agent said that the UK faced a “uniquely challenging” threat from foreign terrorists and British-born radicals who may undertake training for suicide attacks. Intelligence agencies would be “hard pressed” to detect these threats, which are likely to remain a danger for a considerable time, he warned.
The warning was revealed as the independent reviewer of anti-terror laws claimed that European human rights rulings had made the UK a “safe haven” for suspected terrorists.
In his annual review of legislation, Lord Carlile backed the Government’s attempts to deport foreign suspects with assurances over their treatment once returned home. According to the US embassy’s record of the congressmen’s visit, the MI6 official told them that the UK was “wholly or largely dependent” on help from the CIA and other American sources for monitoring terrorism.
He told them that “the internal threat is growing more dangerously because some extremists are conducting non-lethal training without ever leaving the country.
“Should these extremists then decide to become suicide operatives, the UK Government intelligence resources, eavesdropping and surveillance would be hard pressed to find them on any ‘radar screen’,” he noted.
The document said that the officer “described this as a “generational” problem that will not go away anytime soon”