A LEADING Welsh language pressure group has sparked outrage by urging Welsh-speakers not to co-operate with the security services in the fight against terrorists.
Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg said MI5 had not been forgiven for working against Welsh nationalists in the past and could not expect help now they are opening their first branch in the country.
The remarks were last night condemned by politicians as "bizarre".
And the group was accused of mixed messages for insisting the spooks complied with the Welsh Language Act while at the same time urging Welsh speakers not to work for them as translators.
Its spokesman Dafydd Lewis told Wales on Sunday: "The question is, would those who speak Welsh wish to give their services to MI5?
"The trouble is, they have tended to think of Welsh speakers as subversives. Why should we have to translate for them?
"I don't see Cymdeithas co-operating with MI5. In the past, MI5 probably worked against us.
"They should go to the appropriate authorities and ask for their help, and that is a matter for them."
MI5 hopes to recruit up to 11 agents able to operate "inside the Muslim community" when they open their regional office in Cardiff.
Under the Welsh Language Act, every document collected must first be translated from the original language - such as Arabic, Farsi or Dari - into Welsh, causing a headache for Whitehall mandarins.
Some experts have suggested MI5 could be allowed to opt out of the Act.
But, reacting to that suggestion, Mr Lewis said: "No, no, no, no.
"If they are coming to Wales, they should be as accountable to the Welsh Language Act as everyone else."
He said there was "still a level of bitterness" towards the security services who, Mr Lewis said, worked against nationalist groups such as Meibion Glyndwr 25 years ago.
In 1993, Sion Roberts (pictured) was jailed for 12 years for possessing explosives and sending letter bombs.
"I think certainly Welsh activists would have trouble in co-operating with MI5 because of the past history of people who were involved in legitimate political action having their phones tapped and being followed around and harassed by secret agents," said Mr Lewis.
But his claims were dismissed by top security expert Anthony Rees, director of Brunel University's centre for intelligence in London.
MI5 had been more interested in tracking Communist spies and Irish terrorists than cottage-burning Welsh groups, he said.
"While Welsh people burnt down holiday homes owned by what they regarded as filthy rich English people, it is not entirely clear they were regarded as a threat to national security.
"It could have been just a special branch activity.
"People seem to think that MI5 is all around them. That is simply not the case."
Monmouthshire MP David Davies, a strong critic of Welsh language spending and a Welsh speaker himself, said: "It seems to me like that's the solution for MI5 - use these comments as a reason not to go hunting around for speakers of obscure Arabic languages who also speak Welsh.
"Cymdeithas is always complaining about the number of Welsh speakers having to leave Wales and go to London. You'd have thought they'd want to encourage Government departments to move to Wales.
"The whole thing is bizarre, to be honest. Frankly, this country has taken leave of whatever vestige of common sense it once had."
Arabic languages expert Frank Trombley, a lecturer at Cardiff University, said MI5 would struggle to find people able to speak both Welsh and Arabic languages.
He said: "My suspicion is it's very unlikely they will find people."
A spokeswoman for the Home Office declined to comment on Cymdeithas' comments.