Thousands of extremists active in UK

LONDON (Reuters) - Several thousand Islamist extremists may be operating in Britain, more than previously thought, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

It said it had seen a leaked government intelligence report that said “some thousands of extremists” were active in the United Kingdom, mainly concentrated in London, Birmingham and southeast England.

“For the foreseeable future the UK will continue to be a high-priority target for international terrorists aligned with al Qaeda,” the newspaper quoted the report as saying.

“It will face a threat from Muslim converts, and UK-based foreign terrorists, as well as terrorists planning attacks from abroad.”

The Home Office said it did not comment on leaked documents.

Last year the head of Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, MI5, said around 2,000 people in Britain posed a direct threat to national security and the number was growing.

Britain has been targeted a number of times by people angry about its perceived persecution of Palestinians, Muslims and citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Four Islamist suicide bombers killed 52 people on London’s transport system and injured hundreds on July 7, 2005. A similar plot two weeks later failed when homemade bombs failed to explode.

Security services say they have foiled numerous bomb plots since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and are monitoring thousands of individuals who pose a threat.