UK raises terrorism alert level to "severe"

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The UK's Home Secretary said today that Britain has raised its terrorism alert level to "severe", the second-highest level, which indicates that an attack is "highly likely". The highest level, "critical", means that an attack is believed to be "imminent".

File photograph of Alan Johnson, taken in 2007
Image: catch21productions.

"The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre has raised the threat [...] from 'substantial' to 'severe'. This means that a terrorist attack is highly likely," Home Secretary Alan Johnson said. "But I should stress that there is no intelligence to suggest that an attack is imminent [...] We still face a real and serious threat to the UK from international terrorism, so I would urge the public to remain vigilant and carry on reporting suspicious events to the appropriate authorities and to support the police and security services in their continuing efforts to discover, track and disrupt terrorist activity."

"We never say what the intelligence is and it would be pretty daft of us to do that [...] It shouldn't be thought to be linked to Detroit or anywhere else for that matter," he added, referring to the alleged failed attempt to blow up a passenger airliner headed for the US from Amsterdam on December 25.

"The appraisal centre keeps the threat level under constant review and makes its judgments based on a broad range of factors, including the intent and capabilities of international terrorist groups in the UK and overseas," read a statement by the Home Secretary.

Wikinews commentary.svg
Do you agree with this move?

The United States Department of Homeland Security responded to the Home Office's move saying in a statement, "The UK is raising their measures to effectively where we are with the airport security measures that we have taken and announced over the last few weeks. We have enhanced our security measures and communicated specific information to industry, law enforcement and the American people."

The UK has a five-level terrorism alert system, with the individual levels being "Low", "Moderate", "Substantial", "Severe", "Critical".