Britain’s top spy catcher accuses Russia, China & Iran of “reckless” acts 

Ken McCallum, director-general of MI5

Iran tried to kill or kidnap British nationals or residents at least 10 times this year, according to the head of the United Kingdom’s domestic counter-intelligence and security agency, MI5.

In a speech at MI5’s headquarters, Ken McCallum said Britain faces major security threats from Russia, China and Iran, which all use coercion, intimidation and even violence on foreign soil to pursue their interests,

McCallum singled out Iran as the state “which most frequently crosses into terrorism,” saying U.K authorities have uncovered at least 10 “potential threats” this year in which the Islamic Republic’s “aggressive intelligence services” were trying to “kidnap or even kill British or U.K.-based individuals perceived as enemies of the regime.”

He said Iran was the “state actor which most frequently crosses into terrorism.”

“Iran projects threat to the UK directly, through its aggressive intelligence services. At its sharpest this includes ambitions to kidnap or even kill British or UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of the regime,” said McCallum. “We have seen at least 10 such potential threats since January alone.”

The MI5 head said Iran had also been providing support to Russia, including by supplying drones which, he said, had been “inflicting misery” in Ukraine.

He warned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had been “raising national security questions some thought consigned to the history books”.

Moscow will continue to use a mixture of covert threats – like spies and cyber-attacks – as well as more open means like pressure on energy prices and disinformation to target the UK, he warned. “They will keep attacking us

The expulsion of more than 400 suspected Russian spies from across Europe this year has struck the “most significant strategic blow” against Moscow in recent history and taken Vladimir Putin by surprise, said McCallum, who warned that Western nations “must be ready for Russian aggression for years to come.”

McCallum said he could not provide further details of the potential plots but said Iran had sometimes operated using their own spies and sometimes others to work on their behalf using a combination of tactics, sometimes taking actions within Western countries and sometimes trying to lure people back to Iran.

Avril Haines, the US director of National Intelligence, discussed the intelligence community’s assessment of China and Russia — America’s strategic competitors — during testimony before Congress on March 8, 2022.

Haines told the House Intelligence Committee that China “remains an unparalleled priority for the intelligence community.”

She said China is coming ever closer to being a peer competitor to the United States economically, militarily and technologically.

“China is especially effective at bringing together a coordinated whole of government approach to demonstrate its strength, and to compel neighbors to acquiesce to its preferences, including its territorial and maritime claims and assertions of sovereignty over Taiwan,” she told the House panel. “President Xi Jinping and China’s other leaders are determined to force unification with Taiwan on Beijing’s turns.”

While China would prefer to avoid an armed conflict, Chinese leaders have stepped up diplomatic, economic and military pressure on the island. “At the same time, Beijing is preparing to use military force if it decides this is necessary,” she said.

She noted that China is also engaged in its largest ever nuclear force expansion and arsenal diversification effort in its history. The Chinese want to match or exceed U.S. capabilities in space. The nation also presents “the broadest, most active and persistent cyber espionage threat to U.S. government and private sector networks,” she said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has ignited Europe’s largest conflict in generations and provoked a great-power proxy fight. In East Asia, the chances of war are growing, as its belligerent actions raise fears that China may try to seize Taiwan by force. In the Middle East, the US may have to choose between fighting Iran and accepting it as a nuclear threshold state.

Chinese spies have been operating on US soil

A federal jury on November 5, 2021, convicted Deputy Division Director Yanjun Xu, of the Sixth Bureau of the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security, for conspiring to commit economic espionage and theft of trade secrets. Yanjun Xu is the first Chinese intelligence officer to be extradited to the United States to stand trial.

A federal jury in Chicago on September 26, 2022, convicted Chinese national Ji Chaoqun of illegally acting within the United States as an agent of the People’s Republic of China by providing an intelligence officer with information on engineers and scientists working for U.S. defense contractors for possible recruitment as spies in order to obtain access to advanced aerospace and satellite technologies. 

Shuren Qin, 44, was sentenced September 9, 2021, by U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper to two years in prison for illegally exporting more than $100,000 worth of technology with unmanned aerial drones, autonomous underwater vehicles and missile proliferation applications to a Chinese military university.

In the 1930s, Western leaders failed to envision how quickly regional crises involving Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan could cause a global meltdown. Similarly, most post-Cold War isolationists seem ignorant about how the original America First movement came to a complete end at Pearl Harbor.

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