In a speech to the Society of Editors, the Director General of the Security Service, Jonathan Evans, outlined the threats the UK faces.
The nation's main security threat remains al Qaida and groups related to it, Mr Evans said.
And the root of that threat is an extremist ideology 'whose basic tenets are inimical to the tolerance and liberty that form the basis of our democracy,' he said.
The threat continues to grow
He said the number of known extremists within the UK who security services believe could pose a threat was increasing steadily.
'In her speech this time last year, my predecessor, Eliza Manningham-Buller, pointed out that this country was facing an increasing threat from al Qaida-inspired terrorism. When she spoke, MI5 had identified around 1,600 individuals who we believed posed a direct threat to national security and public safety, because of their support for terrorism.
'That figure today would be at least 2,000,' he said.<
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