What’s the long-term security setting likely to be? Not great.
Indicators come from Great Britain, where Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently described the fight against radical Islamic terrorism as a “generation-long challenge.” Now Jonathan Evans the new head of M15, Britain’s espionage service, thinks that at least 4,000 people are involved in terrorism-related activities there and that al-Qaeda poses the “most immediate and acute peacetime threat” to the nation in a century.
Lifting the veil of M15 secrecy a bit, Evans told British editors recently that al-Qaeda’s campaign there is expanding and that “there remains a steady flow of new recruits to the terrorist cause,” with youths as young as 15 being involved in plots.
Evans added that British security agents are watching about 2,000 suspected terrorists in Britain and they feel “there are as many again that we don’t yet know of.”
The M15 head talked about terrorists training in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, Iraq and East Africa, particularly Somalia. Even Russia is giving rise to misgivings, Evans noted, “Since the end of the Cold War, we have seen no decrease in the numbers of undeclared Russian intelligence officers in the U.K.” Countries including Russia and China continue to devote “time and energy trying to steal our sensititve technology on civilian and military projects,” he added.
Cleary, these aren’t auspicious portents for the future. Vigilance is vital.