Is the United Kingdom facing decades of Islamic terrorism?
That's what Lord Jonathan Evans, who retired as the head of the United Kingdom’s MI5 in 2013, believes. Evans served the security service for 33 years, most of which was spent in counter-terrorism efforts.
Widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on Islamist terrorism, he’s frequently asked to provide analysis regarding the threat faced not just among Britons, but around the world. Such was the case in a recent interview with BBC Radio 4, in which he explained the “generational threat” the UK faces.
There’s no doubt that we are still facing a severe terrorist threat but I think it’s also important to put this in a slightly longer context because right the way back from the 1990s we have been experiencing difficulties from Islamist terrorists of one sort or another.
Over that period the threat has come and gone but the underlying threat has continued.
Since 2013 there have been 19 attempted attacks that have been disrupted and even since the attack at Westminster [in March] we are told there have been six disruptions, so this is a permanent state of preparedness.
We’re at least 20 years into this. My guess is that we will still be dealing with the long tail in over 20 years’ time. I think this is genuinely a generational problem. I think we are going to be facing 20 to 30 years of terrorist threat and therefore we need, absolutely critically, to persevere.
Evans also told the radio host he spent many sleepless nights and did a lot of nail biting over MI5 agents who worked undercover inside terrorist organizations.