Alex Younger has been appointed as the successor to Sir John Sawers as chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), which you might also know as MI6. Here are three things likely to be in his in-tray.


The safe recovery of the British hostage John Cantlie will be Mr Younger's top priority. It follows the murders of Alan Henning and David Haines - the third and fourth Westerners to die at the hands of Isis fighters in Syria. The refusal of the UK, unlike other European countries, to pay hostage-takers limits the scope for action.


MI6 knows the identify of "Jihadi John", the Briton who appears in Isis murder videos. He must be captured or eliminated and the estimated 1,500 UK nationals fighting in Syria and Iraq must be tracked on their return to Britain.

Afghanistan and Pakistan

Both countries contain potential threats to the UK. The original source of the 9/11 attacks, according to the Prime Minister, Afghanistan and its neighbour once accounted for 90 per cent of terror plots against Britain. Mr Cameron believes that the region is still the source of half of all planned attacks on the British mainland.

More: Here's everything we know about the new head of MI6

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