British spy chiefs fear Taliban triumph in Afghanistan will create a “victory narrative” for radical Islam and inspire terrorist attacks in the West.
“It must surely be likely that extremist groups of various sorts, including UK-based groupings who have no meaningful connection themselves to Afghanistan, will seek to portray this to potential people they are trying to recruit or radicalise, as a victory for extremist Islam,” complained Security Service (MI5) director-general Ken McCallum, in comments reported by The Sunday Times.
“That’s not me saying that that is the case, but extremists will seek to take propaganda advantage from the situation in Afghanistan,” he added.
The Ministry of Defence has warned of connections between Afghanistan-based Islamists and the terror threat to Britain since at least 2018, when then-Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told the media that “We consistently see terrorist groups operating here in Afghanistan, [and] evidence of their links back not just to the United Kingdom but to the whole of continental Europe.”
Revealed: Direct Links Between Jihadists in Afghanistan and Terror Cells in UK https://t.co/GD9UXsxGmo
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 3, 2018
McCallum, who is as concerned by Islamists simply being “inspired” to act by a Taliban victory as by Taliban or other Afghanistan-based jihadists systematically directing attacks, made his intervention as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has expressed fears that British and allied soldiers may be seen to have died for nothing after the planned pullout from Afghanistan.
“If you ask me whether I feel happy about the current situation in Afghanistan, of course I don’t. I’m apprehensive,” said Johnson, amid widespread reports of major Taliban advances against the Western-backed government as Western troops exit the country in earnest.
“We have to be absolutely realistic about the situation that we’re in, and what we have to hope is that the blood and treasure spent by this country over decades in protecting the people of Afghanistan has not been in vain,” he added.
‘Blood and Treasure’ Wasted? British Fear Taliban Victories Mean Soldiers Died for Nothing https://t.co/aojNJiiVWi
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 9, 2021
British forces may not quite be pulling out of Afghanistan entirely, as advertised, however, with special forces sources having told The Telegraph that they are likely to maintain a presence in the country earlier in July.
One Special Air Service (SAS) source told the newspaper that their purpose would be to “provide training to Afghan units and deploy with them on the ground as advisors”.
“As long as they continue to see value they will keep forces there. It’s not a pleasant place at the moment, people are scared and rightly so,” the source said.
“The Taliban control the countryside and are just waiting for the [Western] coalition to leave. They are making it abundantly clear at every opportunity that their peace is with the coalition and not the Afghan government. The country will implode.”
British Govt to Bring More Afghans to UK as It Pulls Out of Afghanistan https://t.co/PSXIa9AsZk
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 31, 2021