LONDON — The head of Britain's domestic spy agency warned Friday that the UK faces potent new threats from terrorism incubated in Northern Ireland, the Middle East and North Africa.
Jonathan Evans, director-general of MI5, the country's domestic intelligence service, said in a rare public speech that attacks on the UK are increasingly likely to emanate from Somalia, Yemen or Belfast, as al-Qaida-linked groups flee strongholds in Pakistan.
The spy chief said the 2012 London Olympic Games will likely be a major target for terrorist attacks, and warned that dissidents who reject Northern Ireland's peace process could strike mainland British cities for the first time since 2001.
Evans said Irish republican splinter groups have access to weapons, including Semtex explosives, and funds from smuggling and drug trafficking.
"We cannot exclude the possibility that they might seek to extend their attacks to Great Britain, as violent republican groups have traditionally done," Evans said, making a speech late Thursday to security industry professionals in central London. Details of the speech were made public Friday.