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Ex-MI5 chief warns extremists will be inspired by the ‘failure of the West’ in Afghanistan

Afghanistan 'failure' means 'increase in threat' says Lord Evans

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Lord Jonathan Evans has warned that extremists will be inspired by the failure of Western powers in Afghanistan. Speaking to the BBC, he said that the collapse of Afghanistan into the hands of the Taliban will hand a “psychological” boost to terrorists like ISIS. Lord Evans served as director-general of the MI5 between 2007 and 2013.

He warned of an increased threat of extremist plots, suggesting that terrorist groups such as the Islamic State will get more “operating space”.

The ex-MI5 chief said there will be two ways that the fall of Afghanistan could lead to an increased risk of terror plots.

Lord Evans told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think there is more operating space more likely to be available to groups like al Qaeda.

“There have been reports of Islamic State elements present in Afghanistan.”

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He added: “If they get the opportunity to put down infrastructure to train and to operate, then that will pose a threat to the West more widely.

“There’s also the psychological effect of the inspiration that some people will draw from the failure of Western power in Afghanistan.

“That may well create a certain amount of energy in the wider networks that are still in existence in Britain and across the West.

“I think, in practical terms and in terms of ungoverned space, but also in psychological terms, it probably does mean an increase in threat over the coming months and years.”

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Lord Evans said that the West was “too ambitious” by trying to build a new country, and should have focused on counter-terrorism in Afghanistan.

His warning echoes the current head of MI5, Ken McCallum, who told ministers that the Taliban’s control of Afghanistan could produce a “ricochet effect” and creates new threats against the West.

Earlier this week, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested that the UK will engage with the Taliban to stop terror attacks being launched against the West.

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Mr Raab suggested that the UK may impose sanctions on the country, but will also increase overseas development aid in an attempt to prevent terror plots.

During a Commons debate this week about Afghanistan, former Prime Minister Theresa May feared the country could again become a “breeding ground for terrorism”.

Similarly, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace admitted that the meltdown will “inspire” terrorists.

He said the Taliban’s triumph will be seen as a “victory” by extremists around the world.

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