Britain raises terror threat level
Government raises threat level to 'severe', its second highest level of terror alert.
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2010 22:27 GMT
Britian's public has been advised to remain on alert for danger [EPA]

Britain has raised its international threat level to 'severe', its second highest level of terror alert, the home secretary says.

"The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre has raised the threat ... from 'substantial' to 'severe'. This means that a terrorist attack is highly likely," Alan Johnson said in a statement on Friday.

"But I should stress that there is no intelligence to suggest that an attack is imminent," Johnson said.

He refused to say whether the change in the threat level, which takes it to the fourth highest level out of five, was linked to the failed Detroit plane bombing on December 25.

"It shouldn't be thought to be linked to Detroit or anywhere else for that matter," Johnson said.

Heightened vigilance

"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," the statement said.

Terror threat levels

 Critical - an attack is expected imminently
  Severe - an attack is highly likely
 Substantial - an attack is a strong possibility
  Moderate - an attack is possible but not likely
  Low - an attack is unlikely

The increased threat level meant that Britain would put "more resources in, we heighten the state of vigilance", Johnson said.

A Home Office advisory said the threat level meant people should remain on alert for danger, including looking for suspicious bags on public transport.

But it added that they should go ahead with life as normal as the risk of being caught up in an attack was very low.

Crispin Black, a British security analyst, told Al Jazeera that the British government is worried.

"Although the home secretary was vague, he is saying there is more need for vigilance," Black said.

"For the alleged Detroit bomber, there are supposed to be 20 more like him.

"The security alert at India's airports today is very significant, as well as the seven CIA operatives who were killed in Khost in Afghanistan [on December 30]"

"Al-Qaeda and its affiliates are still an on-the-ball organisation. We have to relearn every time that al-Qaeda can come back every time."

The threat level was last at severe on July 20, 2009, when it was downgraded to 'substantial' which means the threat of a attack is a "strong possibility".

Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.