LONDON – Britain raised its terror threat alert to the second-highest level Friday, one of several recent moves the country has made to increase vigilance against international terrorists after a Christmas Day bombing attempt on a Europe-U.S. flight.
The threat level was raised from “substantial” – where it had stood since July to indicate a strong possibility of a terrorist attack – to “severe,” meaning such an attack is considered highly likely.
In making the announcement, Home Secretary Alan Johnson said the raised security level means that Britain is heightening its vigilance. But he stressed that there was no intelligence suggesting an attack is imminent.
“The highest security alert is ‘critical,’ and that means an attack is imminent, and we are not at that level,” he said.
Johnson declined to say what intelligence the change was based on, or whether the move was related to the failed Christmas bombing attempt, when U.S. authorities say a young Nigerian named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear during a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Abdulmutallab, who allegedly had links to extremists based in Yemen, had studied as a university student in London.