MI5 Chief: Al Qaeda Trying To Gain Foothold In Arab Spring Countries

Al Qaeda militants are using countries that overthrew leaders in the Arab Spring as bases to train radicals, including “a small number of British would-be jihadis,” said Jonathan Evans, Britain’s MI5 Security Service chief, in a speech on Monday. Evans acknowledged that revolts in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Egypt offered long-term hope of a more democratic Middle East but warned that “[t]oday parts of the Arab world have once more become a permissive environment for al Qaeda.” Al Qaeda has made no successful attack in Britain since 2005 but the UK has been the target of credible terrorist plots since September 11, 2001, says Evans. In January, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper observed that “robust” U.S. counterterrorism has seriously degraded the ability of Al Qaeda to carry out major attacks.