Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence service, has made a warning speech claiming that Britain faces an on-going terror threat from a variety of sources, including Muslim countries and dissident Irish Republican groups.
He claimed that there is an increasing threat from countries like Yemen and Somalia and that it is impossible for Britain to be immune from the risk of future attacks.
His claims come at a time when MI5 faces government spending cuts and will be very keen to protect its budget, along side the police (who claim that crime will rise) and the military (who argue service personnel will be placed at risk).
Mr Evans’ speech could be said to serve several purposes.
1. Intelligence expert and Tory MP Crispin Black cautioned in an article that “Like all the other department heads, Evans is also trying to protect his budget. The Single Intelligence Account, which pays for all three intelligence services, has not been ring-fenced. George Osborne is said to be keen on a 10 per cent cut.”
It is highly likely Mr Evans is scare-mongering partly to protect his own budget.
2. Crispin Black also cautioned: ““Never take anything at face value when dealing with intelligence types. There are always multiple hidden agendas swirling beneath.” One such hidden agenda, it is claimed, is to give himself and the Home Secretary a ‘disclaimer’ in the unlikely event of a terror attack.
3. Mr Evans’ decision to change the focus from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Yemen and Somalia gives the British government an excuse to step up interference in these parts of the world. The politicisation of Britain’s intelligence services, now infamous for furnishing Tony Blair with his ‘dodgy dossier’ in advance of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, is now well established.
4. Mr Evans’ concerns about alleged threats and ‘terrorists’ deflect memories away from the admission in July 2010 to the Chilcot Inquiry by former intelligence chief Eliza Manningham Buller that Britain’s foreign policy in Iraq INCREASED the threat to Britain.
We fully expect that Britain’s intelligence services, as well as other organisations that benefited from the lucrative multi-million pound anti-extremism/terrorism industry, will continue to raise public and political concerns about risks of terrorism in order to justify their own existence – regardless of the damage they cause to Muslims in Yemen, Somalia or indeed in Britain.