Islamist attacks will threaten UK for decades, former head of MI5 warns as police say Isis is creating terror ‘cult’

Islamist terror will threaten the UK for decades, the former head of MI5 has warned as the methods of radicalisation and attack continue to adapt.

Jonathan Evans said Britain was facing a “generational problem” seeing extremists energised by recent attacks like Westminster.

“We’re at least 20 years into this, my guess is that we will still be dealing with the long tail in another 20 years’ time – I think this is genuinely a generational problem,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“I think that we are going to be facing 20 or 30 years of terrorist threats and therefore we need absolutely critically to persevere.”

Lord Evans, who now sits as a crossbencher in the House of Lords, said that when he retired from the domestic security service in 2013 he believed the UK was “over the worst of the al-Qaeda threat”.

“But then we saw the development and emergence of Isis with the same ideology and many of the same people,” he added.

The former MI5 director said the July 2005 London bombings had an “energising effect on the extremist networks in the UK” that may have been repeated by the Westminster attack in March.

It was followed by Isis-inspired massacres in Manchester and London Bridge, and then the far-right terror attack on Muslims in Finsbury Park – as well as six foiled plots.

“Since 2013 there have been 19 attempted attacks that have been disrupted and even since the attack at Westminster we are told there have been six disruptions, so this is a permanent state of preparedness,” Lord Evans said.

Mark Rowley, the head of national counter terrorism policing, said there has been a “dramatic” increase in pace with the number of threats identified.

“That number of 10 [attacks and plots] over a few months compared to 13 over four years illustrates the change in tempo that we’ve seen, which is a real challenge for us and that’s why we’re going to…

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