Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

New M15 Chief Jonathan Evans Warns of Child Terrorists

Posted by K.E. White on November 5, 2007


Jonathan EvansA disturbing trend is noted by today’s Guardian:

Children in the UK as young as 15 and 16 have been implicated in “terrorist-related” activity as extremists “methodically” target them to help their aims, the head of MI5 said today.

In his first public speech since becoming MI5’s director general in April this year, Jonathan Evans, an expert in Islamist extremism, said terrorists’ increasing use of children was a worrying development.

Mr Evans, who also warned that Russia’s “unreconstructed” attempts to spy on the UK were tying up resources, said: “As I speak, terrorists are methodically and intentionally targeting young people and children in this country. They are radicalising, indoctrinating and grooming young, vulnerable people to carry out acts of terrorism.”

The MI5 director general said the country’s rightful concern to protect children from exploitation needed to be extended to cover violent extremism.

Speaking more generally, he said the UK’s greatest security threat continued to be al-Qaida, which was conducting a “deliberate campaign against the United Kingdom” and there was “no sign of it reducing”.

“I not think that this problem has yet reached its peak,” he added. Speaking to newspaper editors at a hotel in Manchester, Mr Evans said that when his predecessor, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, made a similar speech this time last year she said MI5 had identified 1,600 supporters of terrorism who were a “direct threat to national security and public safety”.

BBC News also reports on Evans’ speech, adding this:

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said the speech contained the message that MI5 needed the public’s help.

“It’s about tackling the ideology at grass roots. They can only really tackle the symptoms. They can’t go up to people and say, ‘Do you follow al-Qaeda?'”

Shiraz Maher, a former member of radical Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir, said the recruitment of young people by militant groups was a reality.

Youth initiatives, including football training and anti-drugs schemes, were being used to groom “impressionable and idealistic” young people, he told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One programme.

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