British spies have died foiling ISIS terror attacks across Europe, the chief of MI6 has revealed according to dailymail.co.uk.
Alex Younger said agents have thwarted several atrocities which ‘would have caused significant loss of life’ over the last two years.
Younger, who is known by the codename C, said the intelligence service has been working with the French and Germans to disrupt potential attacks.
In a rare speech at St Andrews University the MI6 boss said British spooks had paid the ‘ultimate sacrifice.’
He said: ‘This has involved exceptionally difficult and dangerous work.
‘We have asked our agents to do extraordinary things and run great risks.
‘And I will not hide from you that some have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
‘Our country and our allies owe them a debt that they can never truly know and never fully repay.’
He said that Britain now faced a ‘persistent and evolving threat from terrorism’ in his wide ranging speech, his second public address in four years.
Younger said he was ‘perplexed’ over why the United Arab Emirates jailed British academic Matthew Hedges.
Alex Younger said he ‘genuinely can’t understand how our Emirati partners came to the conclusions they came to’.
Mr Hedges was accused of spying for MI6 and jailed in the UAE last month, but he was later pardoned.
He also used his speech to single out Russia and the ‘flagrant hostile act’ of the Salisbury nerve agent attack against Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March.
He said that MI6 will no longer take the state at its word, adding: ‘Mr Skripal came to the UK in an American-brokered exchange, having been pardoned by the president of Russia – and to that extent we assumed that had meaning.
‘That is not an assumption we will make again.’
His speech comes at a time of heightened tensions between the UK and Russia.
At the weekend Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson called on the public to report suspicious activity near military sites, after a Russian TV crew prompted an alert at an Army base.
Earlier this year, GCHQ chief Jeremy Fleming said Moscow posed a ‘real’ and ‘active’ threat to the international community in the wake of the Salisbury novichok attack.
Younger also raised concerns about Chinese companies building high-speed mobile internet networks in the UK.
He said Britain now needs to decide ‘the extent to which we would be comfortable’ with the Chines owning out future high speed internet networks.
China is currently a world leader in developing 5G, a next generation mobile internet technology that promises to deliver much faster download speeds which could revolutionise connectivity.
Mr Younger said: ‘I think this is really interesting. We’ve got some decisions to take.
‘This is about how 5G will, by and large, be based on Chinese technology.
‘We need to decide the extent to which we are going to be comfortable with Chinese ownership of these technologies and these platforms in an environment where some of our allies have taken quite a definite position.
‘We need to have a conversation, it is not wholly straightforward.’
Australia and New Zealand have both recently banned Chinese telecoms firm Huawei from providing 5G equipment on national security grounds.
The Australian government said there were concerns about the country’s internet networks being provided by companies ‘likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government’.
He said the UK must adjust to a new political reality as ‘power, money and politics are going east’.
He also raised the prospect of a technological arms race, saying that the evolving threat from nation states comes largely from their ‘increasingly innovative exploitation of modern technology.’
‘So simply put, we’ve got to innovate faster than they can. Indeed, future generations would not forgive us if it were otherwise.
‘So we are evolving rapidly. Cyber is now our fastest-growing directorate. We are shifting our focus to the nexus between humans and technology.
‘But my organisation will need to adapt even faster if it is to thrive in the future. And that will require people with new perspectives, capable of harnessing their creativity in ways that we can’t yet even imagine.’
However, Mr Younger stressed that human intelligence – gathered by agents in the field – will become more, rather than less, important in the digital age.
He also said that, post-Brexit, Britain will continue to work with allies because our security ties in Europe are ‘indispensable’.
In August Jeremy Fleming, head of eavesdropping agency GCHQ, said ‘fifth generation’ mobile services risk being hacked into by hostile states or terrorists.
He said new technologies will transform healthcare and create smart, energy-efficient cities.
‘But they also bring risks that, if unchecked, could make us more vulnerable to terrorists, hostile states and serious criminals’, he wrote in the Sunday Times.
He added: ‘The globalisation of technology is here and we need to learn to deal with it. Critical technologies – for example, in 5G – are increasingly likely to come from China.’
Mr Fleming said the UK must take measures to limit the threat to national infrastructure.