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2 Jun, 2024 08:55

MI5 to shift focus from terrorism – Telegraph

The outlet’s sources claim the agency is allocating more resources towards counterintelligence
MI5 to shift focus from terrorism – Telegraph

Britain’s MI5 counter-intelligence service has shifted its focus from potential terrorist threats to challenges posed by spies of near-peer adversaries, including Russia, China, and Iran, The Telegraph reported on Saturday, citing sources.

While the UK authorities still deem international and domestic terrorism a priority, the agency is now reportedly devoting more resources to counterintelligence efforts. MI5’s calculus has changed because of the Ukraine conflict and the West’s stand-off with Russia, China’s alleged massive espionage campaign, and Iran’s alleged push to recruit criminals to target those who oppose the government in Tehran, The Telegraph said.

”Counterterrorism has not been deprioritized but this has been prioritized alongside it,” a senior government source told the outlet, adding that MI5’s “workload has definitely shifted in that direction.”

The Telegraph also claimed that Britain’s support for Ukraine has led to increased spying by Russia. “The more you step out, the more you find yourself in their crosshairs,” one of the sources said.

Last month, the UK expelled the Russian defense attaché and “an undeclared military intelligence officer” in what it said was an attempt to “dismantle Russian intelligence-gathering operations” in the country.

The move came after the UK charged a British national – who was allegedly working in Moscow’s interests – with orchestrating an arson plot targeting Ukrainian-linked businesses in London. The Russian Embassy in the UK protested the expulsion, saying it was made under “a groundless and somewhat ridiculous pretext.”

Last year, Richard Moore, the head of the MI6 intelligence service, urged Russians who are “wrestling with… dilemmas” amid the Ukraine conflict to “join hands with us.”

As for China, in mid-May, the British authorities arrested three suspected spies who were allegedly helping Hong Kong’s intelligence service. Hong Kong, a former British colony which operates as a special administrative region of China, has denied the charges, while the Chinese Embassy has dismissed the allegations as “groundless and slanderous.”

In late April, The Times reported that British security services will vet academics and researchers involved in cutting-edge science at universities in order to tackle alleged Chinese espionage activities.