Birmingham must wake up to the fact that terrorism will be a potent threat in the city for the next 20 years at least, the Chief Constable of the West Midlands has warned.
Sir Paul Scott-Lee said the next generation of terrorists were "normal" eight or nine-year-olds at school today who were at risk of becoming mass murderers for reasons that no one could easily understand.
He is challenging all communities to do more to identify young people susceptible to converting to militant Islamism and to take action now to prevent that from happening.
Sir Paul was talking exclusively to The Birmingham Post in the aftermath of Operation Gamble, which resulted in the conviction of Parvis Khan and a number of others for plotting to kidnap a British Muslim soldier on the streets of Birmingham and film him being beheaded.
He insisted the well-publicised dawn arrests of the suspects and the ensuing trial had not harmed community relations. Most Muslims in Birmingham were prepared to trust the police and the judicial process.
Sir Paul added: "There were people who said at the time this is a nonsense, the police must have got it wrong. But one of the strengths of Birmingham is that people were prepared to suspend judgement while the facts were rolled out through the judicial process."
Out of 50 terrorist trials held in the UK last year, 23 defendants pleaded guilty, 23 were found guilty and four were acquitted - a 93 per cent conviction rate.
Sir Paul went on: "I can't envisage any time in the next two years where there won't be terrorist trials on-going in this country. It is a real and significant threat playing out in our courts in continuous fashion. It is an issue we have to start to think about and deal with.
"There is a role that everyone else has to play from the security point of view in trying to keep the West Midlands and Birmingham safe, recognising that we live in one of the most multi-cultural parts of the country."
He said families might be unwittingly be harbouring terrorists. It was unfair to expect the Muslim community to be able to identify people capable of murdering themselves and others.
He added: "What is it that is turning these people, the majority of whom are under 30, into people who want to commit mass murder? This is not a question that only the police service can answer."
The nature of the threat was different to Irish terrorism in the 1970s and 1980s, he believed.
"They have a stated ambition to cause mass casualties without notice. There are no innocents, they are prepared to target everyone and to die themselves."
Sir Paul said he could not conceive of "anyone of faith" committing terrorist atrocities. He added: "Most of the people we have arrested claim to have the Muslim faith but I have listened to erudite professors talk about the difference between Islam and Islamism, which is a perversion of Islam driving the terrorist threat.
"The painful thing for us is that there are a small number of people in the country as a whole who are prepared to murder and to die in the name of their belief. They are living among us.
"Operation Gamble is a good example. These people were living normal lives, they were good friends to people, they were good family members.
"One thing that worries me is the suggestion that if we look hard enough we can identify the terrorist living next door. In a lot of cases, you can't do it. If we are not careful one of the messages we will send out is that the Muslim community must know what is going on. But why should they?"
The Chief Constable said he wanted to get to a point in Birmingham where all communities were asking themselves what they could do to combat terrorism.
He accepted that a minority of critics felt the police were heavy handed and were picking on the Muslim community, but he believed nothing could be further from the truth.
Sir Paul added: "When people say to me, do I victimise communities, the answer is no. When people say do I target communities, I say no I target criminals.
"I am the chief constable who will create an environment so that people can protest, so that they can campaign and wave their banners, however distasteful I may find their view of the world, or however much I agree with them.
"Every time there is a terrorist arrest there is a danger of a backlash against the Muslim community. They feel under the microscope. They feel there are people walking along the street looking at them, and they are probably right. We can't pretend otherwise.
"The terrorist of 10 years' time is going to school and is a normal eight or nine-year-old, but something will happen to one or two of them before they are 20. How do we identify that?
"We have got to find a way through this."