UK's MI5 boss warns of 'intense' terror threat

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Britain's top domestic intelligence officer has warned that Britain is under unprecedented threat from Islamist terrorists, and says that 20 plots have been foiled in the past four years, while future successful attacks are inevitable.

The head of M15, Andrew Parker, said 20 plots had been stopped in the past four years and there was "more terrorist activity coming at us, more quickly" and that it can also be "harder to detect".

He noted a "dramatic upshift" in the threat this year.

MI5 Director General Andrew Parker said his agency, also known as the Security Service, is constantly expanding and upgrading its capabilities, but can not realistically prevent all attacks targeting civilians. "This pace, together with the way extremists can exploit safe spaces online, can make threats harder to detect and give us a smaller window to intervene".

"Attacks will occur sometimes because this is a free society, a liberal democracy, and we do not monitor everybody all the time", Parker said.

Threats were being identified "day in and day out" and the challenge that we face "is undoubtedly a stark one", the intelligence boss said.

He added that during the first seven months of the year, the secret service prevented seven terrorist attacks. MI5 is running 500 live operations involving 3,000 individuals involved in extremist activity in some way.

The risk is further heightened by the possible return to Britain of citizens who joined the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, Parker said. All were related to what he called Islamist extremism.

According to him, over the last four years in the United Kingdom were prevented about 20 terrorist attacks.

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