MI5 head: Islamic State planning ‘devastating’ attacks in Europe

MI5 head: Islamic State planning ‘devastating’ attacks in Europe

Andrew Parker to warn European security chiefs of ‘more complex attacks’ from terror group, threats from Russia

Head of Britain's MI5 Andrew Parker speaks on security threats in October 2017. (Screen capture: YouTube)
Head of Britain's MI5 Andrew Parker speaks on security threats in October 2017. (Screen capture: YouTube)

The Islamic State terror group is planning “direct devastating and more complex attacks,” the head of the British secret service is set to announce on Monday.

MI5 chief Andrew Parker will warn of twin threats from Islamic State and Russia, in a landmark speech to European security chiefs in Berlin, where he will also stress the importance of post-Brexit security ties.

Parker, who has a 35-year career in intelligence, will say that although Islamic State has been defeated from major areas of Syria and Iraq, it is still planning future attacks in Europe, where there have been 45 such attacks since 2016, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Parker will thank European security agencies for their support in the investigation following the Manchester bombing that claimed 22 lives nearly a year ago. He will also disclose that MI5 and police have thwarted 12 plots since the Westminster terror attack of March 2017 which claimed five lives.

Police officers lay flowers in honor of the victims of the March 22 terror attack on the Westminster Bridge by the Houses of Parliament in central London on March 23, 2017. (AFP/Daniel Leal Olivas)

This brings the total number of disrupted attacks since 2013 to 25.

Parker will say he is “confident about our ability to tackle these threats, because of the strength and resilience of our democratic systems, the resilience of our societies and the values we share with our European partners.

“European intelligence cooperation today is simply unrecognizable to what it looked like five years ago,” he will say, adding: “In today’s uncertain world we need that shared strength more than ever.”

His speech comes days after Islamic State claimed credit for a stabbing attack in Paris that killed one person and injured four others.

Former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal attends a hearing at the Moscow District Military Court in Moscow on August 9, 2006. (AFP PHOTO / Kommersant Photo / Yuri SENATOROV)

Parker will also warn about Russian attacks, and will tell the conference that a March nerve agent attack on Russian nationals Sergei and Yulia Skripal, which also injured a police officer, was a “deliberate and targeted malign activity” on British soil.

Russia is committing “flagrant breaches of international rules,” he will say.

Parker will say the attack is evidence of Russia pursuing an agenda through “aggressive and pernicious actions” and risks making the country a “more isolated pariah.”

Russia has denied any involvement in the attack and has challenged Britain to reveal evidence to back up its claim that the Russian state was behind it.

Parker will also condemn Kremlin disinformation following the attack — the first use of a nerve agent in Europe since World War II.

The need “to shine a light through the fog of lies, half-truths and obfuscation that pours out of their propaganda machine” will be set out in his remarks, the first ever made outside Britain by a serving head of MI5.

His comments will be made the same day as the British House of Lords warns the country needs to set out plans for post-Brexit security cooperation with the EU.

“We are concerned that the government has yet to explain how its high-level aspirations could be put into practice,” the Lords EU External Affairs Sub-Committee’s study published Monday said.

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