The UK government raised the country’s terror threat level on Friday from “substantial” to “severe,” an indication that a terrorist attack is considered highly likely. “Severe” is the fourth highest of the five threat levels.
The move apparently came in response to recent ISIS activity in Syria and Iraq, including the beheading of American journalist James Foley by a masked terrorist who spoke with a British accent.
However, Britain’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, said “there is no intelligence to suggest that an attack is imminent," reports CNN
Prime Minister David Cameron said officials will soon announce plans to stop potential British terrorists from traveling to Syria and Iraq by seizing their passports. He also said, “Britain also needs to do more to stop current fighters from returning from the Middle East and to deal decisively with those who already have returned,” CNN reports. “UK authorities estimate that 500 Britons have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight with Islamist groups.”
Cameron also said Foley’s murder provides “clear evidence that ISIS's fight in Iraq and Syria ‘is not some foreign conflict thousands of miles from home that we can hope to ignore,’” according to CNN. “The danger that ISIS poses now is a ‘greater and deeper’ threat to the UK's security than the country has ever known, Cameron added.”
The threat level has been categorized as “substantial” in the UK since 2011. The level is set by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Center and the Security Service, according to CNN.