10/09/2021 08:53 BST | Updated 10/09/2021 09:47 BST

Six Terror Plots Foiled In UK During Pandemic, MI5 Chief Reveals

"Of course there are likely to be terrorist attacks on UK soil on my watch. We wish it were not so," said Ken McCallum

Handout . via Reuters
MI5 Director General Ken McCallum has revealed details about thwarted attacks on UK soil

The head of the UK’s security service has revealed that six “late stage” terror plots were foiled during the coronavirus pandemic. 

MI5′s director general Ken McCallum said in the last four years the organisation has disrupted 31 attack plots in Britain.

“That number includes mainly Islamist attack plots but also a growing number of attack plots from right wing terrorists,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.

He said the covid crisis had not diminished the threat, adding: “Even during the pandemic period, which we have all been enduring for the past two years, we have had to disrupt six late-stage attack plots.

“So the terrorist threat to the UK, I am sorry to say, is a real and enduring thing.”

Asked if there will be a terror attack while he leads the organisation, he replied: “Of course there are likely to be terrorist attacks on UK soil on my watch. We wish it were not so.”

McCallum said they spend their lives trying to stop terror attacks happening, but added: “To our horror, we know that that won’t be possible on every single occasion.”

He also said the UK faces a “consistent global struggle” to defeat extremism, as part of an interview marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attack. 

McCallum said the 20-year campaign to reduce the terror threat from Afghanistan had been largely successful but warned that overnight there could be a “psychological boost” to extremists in the UK and other countries.

“We need to be vigilant both for the increase in inspired terrorism, which has become a real trend for us to deal with over the last five to 10 years, alongside the potential regrowth of al Qaeda-style directed plots,” he added.

It comes after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in a matter of days amid the chaotic withdrawal of western states.

During the candid interview McCallum, said there was “no doubt” that events in Afghanistan will have “heartened and emboldened” extremists.

The MI5 director general said terror threats were “part of our lives” and would remain so for some time.