Britain's secret services want to recruit more non-white agents around the world, a top official said Monday, dismissing the "myth" of spies resembling 007 agent James Bond.
In unprecedented BBC interviews with the MI5 and MI6 domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, two British Asian staff also denied that Muslims were specific targets.
The head of recruitment at the MI6, interviewed in the security service's London headquarters, stressed the need for its foreign staff to come from a wider range of ethnic backgrounds.
"We need people to deploy into a range of situations around the world and people who have a different ethnicity can often go places and do things and meet people that those from a white background can't," he told the BBC.
"There are some places that white males can't go," added the official, who was not identified by the broadcaster.
He downplayed the James Bond image, saying: "This is the biggest myth at the service -- we do not have a licence to kill -- we do not carry Berettas. That's simply not true."
Meanwhile two Asian MI5 officers denied that Britain's Muslim community was a particular target, saying that they only investigated individuals when there was a reason to do so.
"This is a country that has welcomed my family. I've been born, raised here. This is my country," said one, identified only as Jay.
"I just want to work as hard as I can to ensure that it's safe -- for my ... I'd like to say community but by that I mean my whole country."
Britain's security services have faced criticism in their response to the growing threat since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, highlighted by July 2005 London suicide bombings which killed 52.
Some Muslim groups have accused police of heavy-handed treatment of their community, saying they are targeted as potential suspects simply because of their appearance.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Kasım 2007, 11:48