The head of MI6 Alex Younger has warned that the scale of the terrorism threat to the UK was “unprecedented.
Alex Younger said UK intelligence and security services had disrupted 12 terrorist plots since June 2013.
He said many of the threats came from ungoverned spaces in the Middle East – namely Iraq and Syria.
Mr Younger also warned that “hybrid warfare”, which included cyber-attacks and subverting democracy, was becoming an “increasingly dangerous phenomenon”.
“The risks at stake are profound and represent a fundamental threat to our sovereignty,” he said. “They should be a concern to all those who share democratic values.”
In his first public speech since taking up the post of “C”, he warned of the impact of Russia’s alliance with President Bashar al-Assad in Syria in casting all opponents of President Assad as terrorists.
“I believe the Russian conduct in Syria – allied with that of Assad’s discredited regime – will, if they do not change course, provide a tragic example of the perils of forfeiting legitimacy,” he said. “In defining as a terrorist anyone who opposes a brutal regime they alienate precisely that group that has to be onside if the extremists are to be defeated.” He added: “We cannot be safe from the threats that emanate from that land unless the civil war is brought to an end.”