Professor Clarke, director of the Royal United Services Institute, said the period since the July 7 bombings may be considered a “golden age of counter terrorism” in which police and MI5 have been “both successful and lucky”.

But he warned that future generations of terrorists they will learn from failed attacks and that the conviction of more that 90 terrorists in the past four years will make prisons a hotbed of radicalisation. “Since 2001 we have seen only the first round of the struggle,” Prof Clarke said. “Prisons around the world are universities of terror and there is no reason to believe that the UK’s will not be the same.” Prof Clarke said that radicalisation of disaffected Muslim youths can take place in a very short period of time and that the evolution of recruitment and terrorist techniques of British cells is “entirely possible” as they learn from their mistakes.

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