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Mumbai terrorists had links to UK, says MI5 chief

January 07, 2009 16:57 IST

Warning that the Mumbai attacks, in which the terrorists targeted public places, could become a "model" for future terror strikes, Britain's intelligence service MI5 chief has said his agency has uncovered links between the gunmen who struck in Mumbai [Images] and the UK.

Jonathan Evans, in a rare interaction with the media, said the terrorists, who attacked Mumbai in November, had indirect links with Britain.

"We have looked at individuals' communications, where they have been and so on and found they have got connections with most countries including the UK, but not of national security significance," he said.

But the MI5 director general warned that Mumbai could become a model for future terrorist attacks in the same "iconic" way as September 11 strikes in the US.

"If the method used in Mumbai of using firearms in public places becomes adopted as a model, it changes our most likely scenarios," he added.

Evans said that scores of British Muslims were still travelling to terror training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan every year. Others are travelling to lawless areas of Somalia. The main threats to Britain come from al-Qaeda's core in Pakistan and their "assets in this country," he said.

"We continue to believe that the ability lies in Pakistan to attack the UK," Evans said, adding that 75 per cent of their investigations have connections with Pakistan.

Evans said the number of extremists wanting to travel to Iraq had "tailed off significantly" as Britain prepares to withdraw but there was still "traffic" into Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"What happens in Afghanistan is extremely important because what happens there has a direct impact on domestic security in the UK," he said. "Pre-2001 they were able to establish terrorist training facilities and to draw in hardened extremists and vulnerable recruits to indoctrinate and teach techniques.

"If the Taliban [Images] is able to establish control over significant areas, there is a real danger that such facilities will be re-established," Evans said. 

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