Terrorists are recruiting in our schools, says MI5 boss

MI5 is fighting to contain a rapidly-growing terrorist threat, with at least 30 top-priority plots under investigation, the head of the security service said yesterday.

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller said Islamic militants linked to al-Qa’eda were recruiting teenagers to carry out suicide attacks and will use chemical, biological or nuclear weapons if they get the chance.

In a rare public speech, she gave a frank and sobering insight into the challenge facing the counter-terrorist agency, which has seen an 80 per cent rise in its casework since January.

Dame Eliza told an invited audience at Queen Mary College, London, that MI5 was monitoring some 200 groupings or networks comprising more than 1,600 individuals ”who are actively engaged in plotting or facilitating, terrorist acts here and overseas”.

The nature and gravity of the threat was deepening, fuelled by the rapid radicalisation of young British Muslims – some still at school, yet prepared to join the ranks of the suicide bombers. She said the country faced a sustained and growing threat that ”would last a generation”.

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