Britain has seen a credible terrorist attack plot about once a year since the Sept.11 attacks — a worrying pattern as security officials brace for an array of threats ahead of next month’s summer Olympics, the head of the country’s domestic spy agency says. Although Britain’s threat level is a notch below what it has been for much of the past decade, it is still at substantial. The level means an attack is a strong possibility, “Our assessment is that Britain has experienced a credible terrorist attack plot about once a year since 9/11,” MI5’s Director General Jonathan Evans said in a rare public speech Monday to the Lord Mayor’s annual defense and security lecture in London. “The (Olympic) games present an attractive target for our enemies and they will be at the center of the world’s attention in a month or so,” he said. “But the games are not an easy target, and the fact that we have disrupted multiple terrorist plots here and abroad in recent years demonstrates that the UK as a whole is not an easy target for terrorism.”
Not so long ago, 75 percent of the terror threats prioritized by MI5 had links to Afghanistan or Pakistan. But Britain’s efforts, along with those of its international partners, has brought that percentage down to below 50 percent, Evans said. MI5 has grown since the 2001 terror attacks in the United States, going from 1,800 to 3,800 staff — some of whom joined after Britain’s own homegrown suicide bombings that killed 52 people in 2005. Since then, several international terror plots have been hatched in the United Kingdom, including the 2006 trans-Atlantic airliner plot to down several planes using liquid explosives. A handful of terror trials are also underway.
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