Daily Mail

MI5 chief: Iran plot to kill or kidnap ten ‘enemies’ in UK

- By Rebecca Camber Crime and Security Editor

Iran has plotted the assassinat­ion or kidnapping of at least ten of its ‘enemies’ in Britain this year, the head of MI5 revealed yesterday.

In an annual speech on threats facing the UK, Ken McCallum said Iran was the ‘state actor that most frequently crossed into terrorism’.

He suggested the totalitari­an regime was ‘resorting to violence to silence critics’ that could develop into terror attacks on British soil.

‘Iran projects threat to the UK directly, through its aggressive intelligen­ce services,’ he said.

‘at its sharpest this includes ambitions to kidnap or even kill British or UK-based individual­s perceived as enemies of the regime. We have seen at least ten such potential threats since January alone.’

The warning over Iran follows the disclosure last week that two angloIrani­an journalist­s working for an independen­t Persian language television channel based in the UK had been targeted for assassinat­ion by the Tehran regime.

Mr McCallum said: ‘The Foreign Secretary made clear to the Iranian regime just last week that the UK will not tolerate intimidati­on or threats to life toward journalist­s, or any individual, living in the UK.’

Iranian spies, or their proxies working in the UK, are using different tactics which include potential attacks here, he said, adding: ‘at times they are prepared to take reckless action, at times they will take that action in Western countries, at times they will seek to lure people to other parts of the world including Iran itself.’

Speaking at MI5’s Thames House headquarte­rs in London, Mr McCallum set out the ‘sharper threats’ posed by hostile states like Iran, russia and China, describing the UK as being in a contest with ‘adversarie­s who have massive scale and are not squeamish about the tactics they deploy’.

He warned the threat posed by russia would endure: ‘The UK must be ready for russian aggression for years to come.’

More than 100 suspected russian spies have been blocked from entering Britain in recent years, he revealed. Britain expelled 23 russian agents posing as diplomats after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in 2018, and since then over 100 russian diplomatic visa applicatio­ns have been rejected on national security grounds.

In the ‘ most significan­t strategic blow’ to russia’s spy network in recent European history, 400 russian spies have been ejected from European countries since the start of the war in Ukraine. This has taken Vladimir Putin by surprise and it will take years for russia to recover, he predicted.

Mr McCallum said Britain’s old foe was weakened as a result: ‘What we are seeing at the moment is a huge strategic miscalcula­tion by Putin’s Kremlin which in the long run is bound to weaken russia as a global actor.

‘The actions taken this year categorica­lly set russia back many years.’

The spymaster said Britain’s continuing support for Ukraine had angered the Kremlin, resulting in ‘silly claims’ like accusation­s that Britain was responsibl­e for the attack on the nord Stream pipelines.

He predicted the UK would continue to come under attack from russia: ‘Some of that will be covert aggression, for MI5 to tackle and defeat. But much of it, as currently with energy levers, will be overt.’

The Chinese authoritie­s are playing a different game, he warned: ‘They’re trying to rewrite the rulebook, to buy the league, to recruit our coaching staff to work for them.’

Since the summer, MI5 has seen ‘yet more concerning activity’ from China including the ‘ harassment and assault’ of dissidents living in Britain. He cited the recent attack on a pro-democracy protester outside the Chinese consulate in Manchester last month as an example of intimidati­on.

The Chinese authoritie­s are seeking to ‘co-opt and influence’ people across the public sector from British MPs to local councillor­s and potential future parliament­ary candidates, binding them in a ‘debt of obligation’ in a bid to influence government policy.

‘We can expect it to increase further as President Xi consolidat­es power on an indefinite basis,’ Mr McCallum said. ‘To intimidate and harass UK nationals or those who have made the UK their home cannot be tolerated.’

‘Prepared to take reckless action’

‘Significan­t strategic blow’

 ?? ?? Warning: MI5’s Ken McCallum yesterday
Warning: MI5’s Ken McCallum yesterday

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