OP-ED

MI5 chief says al Qaeda from Pakistan, Yemen most dangerous

National Yemen

MI5’s General Director Andrew Parker

London: Britain Security Service MI5’s General Director Andrew Parker has warned of the danger that British citizens are exposed to from Islamist terrorists, adding that exposure of US and UK intelligence’s “reach and limit” posed enormous damage to public security.

Speaking to the Royal United Services Institute in London, the intelligence chief said “thousands of Islamist extremists in the country who regard the public as “legitimate targets”, and defended the use of snooping technology.”

Dismissing that the terrorist threat was “worse now than before”, he said that the threats were more “diffuse, complicated and unpredictable” than before and that the agency was “tackling threats on more fronts than ever before”.

In his maiden speech since taking over as the MI5 Director General, Parker said that the al Qaeda in Pakistan and Yemen presented the “most direct and immediate threats”.

He also warned that bringing in public the details of how the US and UK intelligence agencies work, will prove to be advantageous to the terrorists in plotting more strikes.

Hinting at surveillance exposures made by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Parker said, “It causes enormous damage to make public the reach and limits of GCHQ techniques. Such information hands the advantage to the terrorists. It is the gift they need to evade us and strike at will”.

Seeking to defend the snooping carried out by the intelligence, the MI5 chief dismissed as “utter nonsense” the claims that they were involved in eavesdropping on everyday communications.

“In some quarters there seems to be a vague notion that we monitor everyone and all their communications, browsing at will through people’s private lives for anything that looks interesting. That is, of course, utter nonsense.”

“Far from being gratuitous harvesters of private information, in practice we focus our work very carefully and tightly against those who intend harm,” he said, adding safeguards were in place to protect citizens.

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha