In Brief

Isis threat to UK blown out of proportion, says ex-MI6 chief

Conflict 'essentially one of Muslim on Muslim' with West no longer main target, says Richard Dearlove

The threat of Islamist terrorism to the West has been blown out of proportion, according to the former head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove.

Addressing the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based security think-tank, he said that the West, including Britain, was only "marginally affected" following a fundamental change in the nature of Islamist extremism since the Arab spring.

He described the current Isis uprising as "essentially one of Muslim on Muslim" with the West no longer the main target of radical fundamentalism.

Dearlove, who led MI6 at the time of the Iraq invasion, blamed the government and media for blowing the threat out of proportion and said that giving the extremists the "oxygen of publicity" was counter-productive. "It is surely better to ignore them," he said.

Earlier in the day ITV's Good Morning Britain broadcast an interview with Abdul Raqib Amin, a British Muslim brought up in Aberdeen who appeared in an Isis recruitment video last month, reports The Guardian. Amin told the programme he would stay and fight until the rule of Islam was established or until he dies.

Last night, Dearlove claimed the media was making monsters of "misguided young men, rather pathetic figures" who were getting more coverage "than their wildest dreams". He suggested it was time to move away from the "distortion" of the post-9/11 mindset and think rationally about the crisis in the Middle East.

His comments appear to contradict those made by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, who claimed the British public had grown complacent over the risk of a terrorist attack.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph ahead of the 7 July London bombings anniversary, Rifkind described the public's lack of vigilance as "seriously disturbing" and warned that Britain faces a new threat from jihadi bomb makers with "devilish technical skill".

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