London: The Middle East is once again turning a hub for terrorist activities as British would-be jihadists are heading to the area for terrorist training, Jonathan Evans, Director General of MI5, has said.
Al Qaeda is using several areas in the countries, that witnessed the toppling of regimes during the Arab Spring, for terrorist activities as it "once more became a permissive environment for al Qaeda", Evans warned.
Evans said that the development is giving al Qaeda a chance to re-emerge in the countries where the network first won popular support, as per a report in The Guardian.
While the exact figures remain unclear, the agency monitored over 100 people who have attempted to link up with extremists in countries such as Yemen, Egypt, Syria and Libya.
“This is a new and worrying development and could get worse… some will return to the UK and pose a threat here," said Evans in a speech on Monday night.
"Al Qaeda first moved to Afghanistan in the 1990s, then they moved 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," said Evans.
The speech on Monday night was the first Evans has given since 2010, and attempted to put into context the counter-terrorist threat posed to the UK.
Evans said that the terrorist activities in Yemen are believed to be at the top of MI5`s worry list. "Repeated attempts by al Qaeda in Yemen to mount attacks on aircraft could result in mass civilian casualties."
Meanwhile, referring to London Olympics, Evans said that even though it’s an "attractive target for our enemies” but the Games are not an easy target and the agency is well-prepared.