LONDON — The Arab Spring has spawned a new generation of British would-be terrorists drawn to the area for training, according to the head of MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency.
In a speech in London Monday, Jonathan Evans said the uprisings in Arab states posed an immediate threat to security as al-Qaida moved in to take advantage of instability in the region.
“Today, parts of the Arab world have once more become a permissive environment for al-Qaida,” Evans said, according to the text of his speech on MI5’s Website.
“This is the completion of a cycle; al-Qaida first moved to Afghanistan in the 1990s due to pressure in their Arab countries of origin. They moved on to Pakistan after the fall of the Taliban. And now some are heading home to the Arab world again.”
“And a small number of British would-be jihadis are also making their way to Arab countries to seek training and opportunities for militant activity, as they do in Somalia and Yemen,” he said.
“Some will return … and pose a threat here.”
Any suggestions that the threat from al-Qaida in Pakistan has evaporated since the U.S.’s killing of Osama bin Laden last year are misguided, Evans said.