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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Friday, October 20, 2017

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MI5 warns of Paris-style "mass casualty" attack in West

A Syria-based Al Qaeda faction is planning

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LONDON, United Kingdom - A Syria-based Al Qaeda faction is planning "mass casualty" attacks in the West with intelligence pointing to specific plots, head of Britain's MI5 has warned.

Speaking after the attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, Director General of the Security Service Andrew Parker said that the terror threat in the United Kingdom was growing.

"We know, for example, that a group of core Al Qaeda terrorists in Syria is planning mass casualty attacks against the West," he said.

The potential threat comes from British jihadists who have returned from fighting in Syria or Iraq.

The plans, according to media reports citing intelligence sources, include blowing up a passenger jet; Mumbai-style shootings in crowded places; or even hit-and-run attacks using vehicles.

Parker said the UK was facing "more complex and ambitious plots" like the number of random "crude and potentially deadly" plots from "lone wolf" extremists.

"Although we and our partners try our utmost, we know we cannot hope to stop everything," said Parker.

He said that security agencies in the UK had foiled three terrorist plots in recent months.

The attack on the French satirical magazine allegedly by Al Qaeda trained extremists prompted increased level of security alertness in the UK.

According to sources, the British Security Service has also increased surveillance of British extremists who are potential threats and are feared may launch copycat attacks. The attack on the French newspaper killed 12 people in Paris.

The shootings in Paris were "a terrible reminder of the intentions of those who wish us harm," said the MI5 chief.

"The going is getting tougher but there are good reasons for confidence in our enduring ability to respond. It's well-understood that we can't guarantee to stop everything, but we continue to strive to get as near to that as we can."

Meanwhile, Chancellor George Osborne has pledged to give British security services whatever resources they need to allow them to maintain their "heroic job" in protecting the British people from terrorist threats at home and abroad.

"In the last few weeks we have put extra money over 100 million pounds into specifically monitoring people going to conflicts in Syria and Iraq, these self-starting terrorists who get their ideas off the internet and then go and want to perpetrate horrendous crimes," Osborne told the BBC.

"So we are putting a huge effort in. As the director general of MI5 has said over the last 24 hours, that is the threat we face and we face a threat from more complex plots. So we have got to be vigilant, we have got to have the resources there."

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