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Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 06:26 GMT 07:26 UK
Terror here to stay, says ex-MI5 chief
The war against global terrorism is destined for failure, the former head of Britain's security service has warned.

Stella Rimington, who retired as director-general of MI5 in 1996, said terrorism could never be wiped out altogether.

And she said there could be a repeat of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York because intelligence networks were not developed enough.


There will always be a risk that terrorist incidents may take place because there is not sufficiently advanced intelligence

Stella Rimington

Mrs Rimington, 65, was speaking at Cheltenham Literature Festival in Gloucestershire to promote her autobiography Open Secret.

She is the first British spymaster allowed to talk frankly about her experiences in the intelligence services.

She said: "I do not feel incredibly confident about this war against terrorism.

"I think it is encouraging to see there is better, closer collaboration between the world's intelligence agencies.

"That is quite positive, but rooting out terrorism strikes me as an extremely difficult thing to do.

100% intelligence

"Terrorism is with us. New groups will come who regard terrorism as very useful in drawing attention to their causes.

"I don't think rooting it out for all time is a very practical objective."


New groups will come who regard terrorism as very useful in drawing attention to their causes

Stella Rimington

Mrs Rimington, who worked for MI5 for 27 years, said the spy network was not advanced enough to predict exactly when and where terrorists would strike.

She said: "There is no such thing as 100% intelligence. There will always be a risk that terrorist incidents may take place because there is not sufficiently advanced intelligence."

Mrs Rimington has previously defended American intelligence agencies following criticism that they should have found out about, and prevented, the 11 September attacks.

She told an audience in Glasgow last week: ''It is difficult to get detailed intelligence about precisely when and where terrorist activity is going to take place.

"People who criticise, as they have done, the CIA for example, for not having prior intelligence, are barking up the wrong tree.''

MI5 hunt

MI5 has become increasingly involved in countering international terrorism since the end of the Cold War.

It now devotes more than one fifth of its budget to fighting international terrorism, for which it has reportedly been given extra funds since 11 September.

It has investigated accounts that 11 of the hijackers involved in the attacks passed through Britain.

It is also understood to be actively looking in the UK for other members of Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network who may be connected to the suicide hijackers.

Muslim cleric Shafiq Ur Rehman, who is to be deported to Pakistan accused of supporting terrorism, recently claimed the move was punishment for refusing MI5 attempts to recruit him as an agent.


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08 Sep 01 | UK
First lady of espionage
08 Sep 01 | UK
Ex-MI5 chief sparks outrage
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