MI5 Chief: surprised and alarmed by speed of radicalisation of Muslims in UK

Friday, November 10, 2006

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller giving a speech at Queen Mary College, London, November 2006

Speaking about the "terrorist threat" in Britain, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, Director-General of the British Security Service MI5, claimed that she was alarmed by the "scale and speed" with which Muslims, even those still at school, are being radicalised.

She told the Mile End Group run by Professor Peter Hennessy, Queen Mary College, that the view of history which prompted feelings of grievance and injustice was shared, not only by extremists, but by many others in the country. For example, opinion polls suggest that over 100,000 people think that the July 7, 2005 attacks in London were justified. (This inference from the data is contested by The 1990 Trust)

She also claimed that MI5 is aware of some 200 groupings, comprising about 1600 individuals, including many teenagers, who are actively planning suicide attacks and the use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons; these include "resilient networks, some directed from Al-Qaida in Pakistan, some more loosely inspired by it".

Tony Blair supported Dame Eliza's statement, but said "This is a threat that has grown up over a generation."

Concurrently, the Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, in a speech to theRoyal United Services Institute think tank, was calling on the Muslim community to "stand up and be counted" in the fight against extremism. She said that "Muslim communities have a special ability to make a difference in the struggle against extremism."