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Al-Qaida recruiting teenagers to attack targets in Britain, warns MI5 chief

Teenagers as young as 15 are being groomed to carry out terrorist attacks in Britain and al-Qaida sympathisers are hatching plots in a growing number of foreign countries against targets here, the head of MI5 warned yesterday.

In his first public speech, Jonathan Evans Jonathan Evans may refer to:
  • Jonathan Evans (politician), a British lawyer and Conservative Party politician in the European Parliament.
  • Jonathan Evans (spymaster), Director-General of MI5.
 described the threat posed by al-Qaida-inspired extremism as "the most immediate and acute peacetime threat" the security service had faced in its 98-year history. The threat, he emphasised, had its roots in ideology, making it all the more important that the response must not be indiscriminate.

"Terrorists are methodically and intentionally targeting young people and children in this country", Mr Evans told the annual conference of the Society of Editors in Manchester. He added: "They are radicalising, indoctrinating and grooming young, vulnerable people to carry out acts of terrorism. This year, we have seen individuals as young as 15 and 16 implicated im·pli·cate  
tr.v. im·pli·cat·ed, im·pli·cat·ing, im·pli·cates
1. To involve or connect intimately or incriminatingly: evidence that implicates others in the plot.

 in terrorist-related activity."

Al-Qaida was "conducting a deliberate campaign against us", he said. It was an "expression of hostility" against Britain that existed long before the September 11 attacks September 11 attacks

Series of airline hijackings and suicide bombings against U.S. targets perpetrated by 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda.
 on the US. What was new was the attempt to recruit youngsters and the extent to which conspiracies here were being driven from more countries.

In the past, much of the command, control and inspiration for planning attacks in Britain came from al-Qaida's remaining core leadership in the tribal areas Tribal Areas can refer to:
  • Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan
  • Provincially Administered Tribal Areas also in Pakistan
  • Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council in India
See also
  • List of U.S. state and tribal wilderness areas
 of Pakistan - often using young British citizens to mount the actual attack, Mr Evans said.

Now, he said, a similar pattern was emerging elsewhere. There was no doubt there was training activity and terrorist planning in East Africa - particularly in Somalia - which was focused on the UK.

Two weeks ago 18-year-old Abdul Patel, from Hackney, east London East London, city (1991 pop. 240,474), Eastern Cape, SE South Africa, on the Indian Ocean. The city grew around a British military post founded in 1847. Its harbor was developed from 1886, and today it is a leading South African port.  was sentenced to six months in jail after being convicted of possessing a document likely to be useful to terrorists.

Patel was only 17 when he was arrested by anti-terrorist police in Hackney. In a raid they discovered a copy of the US government's Improvised Explosive Devices manual, execution videos and instructions how to make the nerve gas nerve gas, any of several poison gases intended for military use, e.g., tabun, sarin, soman, and VX. Nerve gases were first developed by Germany during World War II but were not used at that time.  sarin sarin (zärēn`), volatile liquid used as a nerve gas. It boils at 147°C; but evaporates quickly at room temperature; its vapor is colorless and odorless. .

An Old Bailey Old Bailey

the Central Criminal Court of England

Noun 1. Old Bailey - the central criminal court in London
criminal court - a court having jurisdiction over criminal cases
 jury was told he was "ready, willing and able" to supply the bomb manual to extremists. Patel claimed he was looking after the manuals and videos for a friend of his father's. The manual included details on how to conceal bombs in hand baggage hand baggage nHandgepäck nt

hand baggage nbagaglio a mano 
 and set up booby traps.

Michael Mansfield

For other people named Michael Mansfield, see Michael Mansfield (disambiguation).
Michael Mansfield QC (born 12 October 1941) is an English barrister, regarded as one of the top six criminal defence advocates in the UK.
, QC, defending, told jurors Patel was only regarded as the "tea boy". Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, countered: "In the wrong hands, the information contained in this manual can have catastrophic consequences - including causing explosions of the most terrifying ter·ri·fy  
tr.v. ter·ri·fied, ter·ri·fy·ing, ter·ri·fies
1. To fill with terror; make deeply afraid. See Synonyms at frighten.

2. To menace or threaten; intimidate.
 kind in the UK and abroad." Patel was cleared of the more serious charge of possession of an article for terrorist purposes.

Mr Evans, 49, was appointed MI5's director of international counter-terrorism 10 days before the September 11 attacks. He succeeded Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller Dame Elizabeth (Eliza) Lydia Manningham-Buller, DCB (born 14 July, 1948) was Director General (DG) of MI5, the British internal national security agency, from October 2002 until her retirement on 20 April 2007. Her full title is The Hon. Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller.  as director general of the security service in April. Yesterday, he referred to Dame Eliza's speech a year ago when she said MI5 had identified 1,600 individuals believed to pose a direct threat to national security and public safety because of their support for terrorism.

He said the figure had risen to at least 2,000, partly because of MI5's more thorough coverage of extremist networks. Yet the "steady flow of new recruits to the extremist cause" was also behind the rise. The most visible manifestations of the threat were terrorist attacks and attempted attacks, Mr Evans said. But emphasising a point made by Gordon Brown in recent speeches, Mr Evans said: "The root of the problem is ideological."

"This is not a job only for the intelligence agencies and police," he added. "It requires a collective effort in which government, faith communities and wider civil society have an important part to play. And it starts with rejection of the violent extremist ideology across society - although issues of identity, relative deprivation Relative deprivation is the experience of being deprived of something to which one thinks he is entitled to [Walker & Smith 2001]. It is a term used in social sciences to describe feelings or measures of economic, political, or social deprivation that are relative rather than  and social integration also form important parts of the backdrop."

Mr Evans warned against governments overreacting to the terrorist threat. "The terrorists may be indiscriminate in their violence against us, but we should not be so in our response to them," he said.

Despite the end of the cold war nearly two decades ago, MI5 was still devoting resources against "unreconstructed un·re·con·struct·ed  
1. Not reconciled to social, political, or economic change; maintaining outdated attitudes, beliefs, and practices.

2. Not reconciled to the outcome of the American Civil War.

Adj. 1.
 attempts by Russia, China, and others to spy on us", he said.

Counter-intelligence officers say 30 agents are operating out of the Russian Embassy and trade mission.

In a reference to Russia and China, Mr Evans said some countries were devoting "considerable time and energy trying to steal sensitive technology on civilian and military projects, and trying to obtain political and economic intelligence".

The Guardian recently disclosed that Chinese hackers, some believed to be from the People's Liberation Army People's Liberation Army

Unified organization of China's land, sea, and air forces. It is one of the largest military forces in the world. The People's Liberation Army traces its roots to the 1927 Nanchang Uprising of the communists against the Nationalists.
, had been attacking the computer networks of British government departments, including the Foreign Office.

Mr Evans defended MI5 against charges that it could have identified two of the bombers who struck in London on July 7 2005 because they had been seen with the perpetrators of another terrorist plot the agency had succeeded in foiling. "There will be instances when individuals come to the notice of the security service or the police but then subsequently carry out acts of terrorism", he said. He continued: "This is inevitable. Every decision to investigate someone entails a decision not to investigate someone else. Knowing of somebody is not the same as knowing all about somebody."

Mr Evans said he expected MI5, with a workforce now of about 3,150, would have 4,000 staff by 2011, a quarter of them based outside London in the agency's regional offices.
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Date:Nov 6, 2007
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