U.K. Terror Threat Level Raised to ‘Severe’ on Islamic State

Aug 29, 2014 11:32 am ET

(Updates with Cameron comments from first paragraph.)

Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister David Cameron said the threat to the U.K. from Islamic State militants is greater than anything previously faced, as the government raised the terror threat level to “Severe,” the second-highest level, based on new intelligence.

Cameron told reporters that the public could expect to see more police, including armed officers, on the streets as a result of the increased threat level. He will also announce new legislation on Monday to make it easier to confiscate the passports of people who’re suspected of wanting to travel to join extremist groups.

Speaking in today in London, Cameron said the battle against Islamic extremism is a “generational struggle” which will probably last decades. He said Islamic State, the Sunni militant group also known as ISIL and ISIS that has captured ground in both Syria and Iraq, had taken it to a new level.

“What we are facing in Iraq now with ISIL is a greater threat to our security than we have seen before,” the prime minister said. “We could be facing a terrorist state on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member.”

North Atlantic Treaty Organization member Turkey shares a border with both Syria and Iraq.

The “Severe” terrorism threat rating means an attack is “highly likely,” but that there’s no intelligence about a specific plot. The highest level is “Imminent.”

Medieval State

Cameron said Islamic State “believes in using the most brutal forms of terrorism to force people to accept a warped world view and live in an almost medieval state.”

He said that military force was only part of fighting IS, and that political change would be needed in the region as well.

Earlier, Home Secretary Theresa May explained the decision by the government’s the Joint Terrorism Analysis Center to raise the threat level.

“The increase in the threat level is related to developments in Syria and Iraq where terrorist groups are planning attacks against the West,” May said in a statement in London. “Some of those plots are likely to involve foreign fighters who have traveled there from the U.K. and Europe to take part in those conflicts.”

Cameron said at least 500 people have traveled from the U.K. to fight in Iraq and Syria with IS.