London: The head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, has warned that the UK faces potent new threats of lethal attacks from terrorism incubated in Northern Ireland, the Middle East and North Africa.
Evans said that attacks on the country are increasingly likely to originate from Somalia, Yemen or Belfast.
"Counter-terrorist capabilities have improved in recent years but there remains a serious risk of a lethal attack taking place. I see no reason to believe that the position will significantly improve in the immediate future," the BBC quoted him, as saying.
“I am concerned that it is only a matter of time before we see terrorism on our streets inspired by those who are today fighting alongside Al-Shabaab,” he added.
Evans further raised concerns over the number of convicted of offences in the years after the 9/11 attacks, who are freed soon, saying, "We know that some of these prisoners are still committed extremists who are likely to return to their terrorist activities."
According to him, the number of plots against Britain with links to Pakistan`s tribal areas had dropped from 75 percent to 50 percent, not only as a result of drone strikes against al Qaeda leaders, but also because of a sharp increase in activity in the Middle East and North Africa.
Would-be terrorists from around the world, including dozens of people either born or living in Britain, are reportedly training in camps in Somalia run by the al Qaeda aligned terrorist group Al-Shabaab.
He claimed that the involvement of the radical preacher, Anwar Al Awlaqi, in a succession of plots and the influence of his message in the UK had raised concerns that his adherents, possibly lone individuals, would respond by mounting attacks.
Evans also warned that although the campaign by dissident republicans was currently focused on Northern Ireland, MI5 "cannot exclude the possibility" that it might spread to the mainland.
He urged for a "zero tolerance" attitude to the terrorist risk, which he said was spreading.