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UK’s MI5 spy chief warns of new 9/11 risk after West’s withdrawal from Afghanistan

Published: Updated:

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan will give a “morale boost” to extremists plotting attacks elsewhere, and there is a risk of another attack like 9/11, the head of Britain's MI5 domestic spy service said on Friday.

Ken McCallum told the BBC: “The big concern flowing from Afghanistan, alongside the immediate inspirational effect, is the risk that terrorists reconstitute and once again pose us more in the way of well developed, sophisticated plots of the sort that we faced in 9/11 and the years thereafter.”

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He added on the eve of the 20th anniversary of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks on the US: “Overnight you can have a psychological boost or morale boost to extremists already here, or in other countries. So, we need to be vigilant — both for the increase in inspired terrorism, which has become a real trend for us to deal with over the last five to ten years, alongside the potential regrowth of al-Qaeda-style directed plots, that we saw more commonly some years ago.”

“There is no doubt that recent events in Afghanistan will have heartened and emboldened, some of those extremists, and so being vigilant to precisely those kinds of risks is what my organization is focused on, along with, along with a range of other threats,” he said.

The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 15 and the US withdrew the last of its troops and officials from the country on August 31, ending more than 20 years of American presence.

The international community is concerned the rise of the Taliban to power will make Afghanistan a haven for terrorism.

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