M15 Infiltrated By Al-Qaeda
May 14, 2006
By Vincent Moss Acting Political Editor
UK Sunday Mirror
TERRORISTS from al-Qaeda have infiltrated Britain's security services, the Sunday Mirror can reveal.
Bosses at M15 believe they unwittingly recruited the Muslim extremists after the July 7 suicide bombings in London last year which killed 52 people.
They were signed up as part of a drive to find more Muslims and Arabic speakers to work as spies to help prevent future attacks by Osama bin Laden fantatics.
Spymasters found some of the agents in Britain's universities and colleges and persuaded them to pass on information about suspected terrorists.
But a senior ministerial source has told the Sunday Mirror: "The truth is that it has now been discovered that some of those people have strong links with al-Qaeda.
"There was always a risk that with such a speedy and widespread recruitment some would turn out to be bad eggs.
"But the recruitment has meant we are now in a much better position to stop al-Qaeda attacks than we have ever been before. Several planned attacks have already been stopped thanks to the high quality of our intelligence." But the disclosure that suspected terrorists have infiltrated the security services will be a further embarrassment to Government Ministers.
They came under ferocious pressure last week after an official report claimed MI5 had failed to follow up vital leads before the July 7 bombings.
The report from the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) said greater coverage by M16 - Britain's overseas spies - in Pakistan and more manpower "might have alerted the agencies to the intentions of the July 7 group".
But MI5 director-general Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller is masterminding a campaign to hire hundreds more intelligence officers to the service.
She is looking for IT experts, technicians and language specialists to help monitor "traffic" via emails and phone calls between al-Qaeda terror cells across the world.
MI5 is also offering £27,000 a year for "mobile surveillance officers" to follow targets who are part of "national security investigations".
But the service warns that its strict vetting process means it takes up to eight months to consider applications.
The ISC report last week found that two of the July 7 bombers - Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer - were known to the security services.
But they were not seen as a high priority and M15's manpower was diverted to investigate other suspects.
The pair were among the four suicide bombers who detonated their homemade devices on three Tube trains and a bus in the worst terrorist attack in British history.
SECRET HISTORY OF CENTURY OF SPYING
MI5 was founded in 1909, but its title then was the Home Section of the Secret Service Bureau.
IT wasn't until 1916 that it was called MI5, standing for Military Intelligence Section 5, although its official title is the Security Service.
MI5's primary role is to gather intelligence on those posing a threat to homeland security. MI6 keeps tabs on Britain's enemies abroad.