MI5 and MI6 to recruit more minority spies

MI5, which has a target of increasing its current 3,000 staff to 4,000 by 2011, also insisted that it wanted to improve relations with Muslim communities.

The BBC Monday was broadcasting a series of interviews with ethnic community members working for Britain’s intelligence and security services in a bid to broaden the recruitment of MI5 and MI6 officers among the country’s minority communities.

A male and female agent, calling themselves Shazad and Jayshree, were permitted to talk for the first time, spoke on the BBC’s Asian Network about their job, which they insisted was to protect the UK and not target Muslims.

“If you look at the bigger picture, I think you realise this isn’t about spying on your own community, or letting your own community down, or any of those things,” Shazad said.

“It is about protecting people like yourself – others out there – from threats, and there can be a number of different kinds of threats,” he said.

Yasmin, who was introduced as a member of overseas intelligence agency MI6, was also reported to have told BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat about her work recruiting spies.

Yasmin insisted that she did not think she was recruited because of her Muslim faith and said she would challenge “very strongly” any suggestion that her religion complicated her work.

The head of MI6 recruitment, Mark, said the organisation wanted to attract people and to be truly to be representative and reflective from all ethnic minorities, not just Muslims.

“We want to be truly, but clearly if we are going to be reflective we do need to have Muslims in our organisation because of the insight and understanding that they bring,” he said.

Britain’s domestic security service, MI5, also told the BBC that it hoped the insight into life as a British Asian agent will help increase its percentage of black and minority ethnic staff, which currently stands at 6.5 per cent.

MI5, which has a target of increasing its current 3,000 staff to 4,000 by 2011, also insisted that it wanted to improve relations with Muslim communities.

The exclusive interviews were said to have been the first recorded at MI5’s London headquarters in the organisation’s 98-year history. –IRNA