LONDON — British Prime Minister David Cameron said the “root cause” of the terrorist threat in the United Kingdom is “Islamist extremism.”
He said the killing of U.S. journalist James Foley is clear evidence that ISIS’ fight in Iraq and Syria “is not some foreign conflict thousands of miles from home that we can hope to ignore.”
The danger that ISIS poses now is the “greatest and deepest” threat to the UK’s security that the country has ever known, Cameron said.
This is in part because ISIS is not simply seeking refuge in a country, but ruthlessly seeking its own terrorist state and expanding, he said. He was speaking about Friday’s increase in the UK’s terror threat level.
The UK government raised its terror threat level Friday from “substantial” to “severe,” the fourth highest of five levels, in response to events in Iraq and Syria, where ISIS militants have seized a swath of territory.
“That means that a terrorist attack is highly likely, but there is no intelligence to suggest that an attack is imminent,” Home Secretary Theresa May said.
“The increase in the threat level is related to developments in Syria and Iraq where terrorist groups are planning attacks against the West.
“Some of those plots are likely to involve foreign fighters who have traveled there from the UK and Europe to take part in those conflicts.”
UK authorities estimate that about 500 Britons have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight with Islamist groups.