US Afghan withdrawal will have emboldened terrorists, says MI5 boss

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Members of the Taliban Badri 313 military unit stand beside damaged and discarded vehicles parked near the destroyed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) base in Deh Sabz district northeast of Kabul (AFP via Getty Images)
Members of the Taliban Badri 313 military unit stand beside damaged and discarded vehicles parked near the destroyed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) base in Deh Sabz district northeast of Kabul (AFP via Getty Images)

America and Britain’s chaotic pull-out of Afghanistan will have “heartened and emboldened” extremists who could be inspired to carry out terror attacks, the head of MI5 said today.

Amid fears that terror organisations could regroup in Afghanistan after it was seized back by the Taliban, Ken McCallum stressed the threat of terrorism in the UK remains “a real and enduring thing”.

The director general of MI5 said that although more directed plots from terrorist organisations take time to organise and carry out, psychological boosts for their causes could happen “overnight”.

Thirty-one “late-stage attack plots” have been foiled in Britain in the last four years, mainly from Islamist extremists. Six such plans were disrupted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr McCallum said “inspired” terrorist acts were “by volume” the largest number of threats MI5, the intelligence services, and police face.

“There is no doubt that events in Afghanistan will have heartened and emboldened some of those extremists,” he said. “We need to be vigilant both for the increase in inspired terrorism and the potential regrowth of al Qaeda-style directed plots.”

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