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US and Australian governments respond to change in UK terrorism threat level

Following the decision last week by the UK government to increase the threat level from international terrorism from substantial to severe, the US and Australian governments have responded with statements. These are as follows:

UNITED STATES

Statement by Secretary Johnson

“Today [29th August] the United Kingdom raised the domestic threat level from international terrorism from “Substantial” to “Severe,” related to developments in Syria and Iraq. I have spoken to U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May about these changes.

“At present, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are unaware of any specific, credible threat to the U.S. homeland from ISIL. Plainly, however, violent extremists who support ISIL have demonstrated the intent and capability to target American citizens overseas, and ISIL constitutes an active and serious threat within the region.

“Additionally, in response to recent threats generally from overseas, the Department of Homeland Security over the past several weeks has taken a number of steps to enhance aviation security at overseas airports with direct flights to the United States, and the United Kingdom and other nations have followed with similar enhancements. This government, in close collaboration with our international partners, has also taken a series of steps to track foreign fighters who travel in and out of Syria, and we are contemplating additional security measures concerning foreign fighters. Some of the security measures will be visible to the public and some understandably will be unseen.

“At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security is mindful of the potential for homegrown violent extremism inspired by radical ideology overseas, and, both through law enforcement and community outreach, we are taking steps to counter that potential threat.

“The Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. government are deeply concerned about the current situation in Iraq and Syria. We will continue to evaluate and adopt serious and prudent homeland security measures as the situation warrants.”

AUSTRALIA

The Government of the United Kingdom has raised its terrorism threat level from 'Substantial' to 'Severe'. This move by the United Kingdom indicates the significance of the threat posed by the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.

It is of serious concern that Australian citizens are active in these groups. The Government's assessment is that approximately 60 Australians are engaged in fighting in Syria and Iraq, with an additional 100 involved in active facilitation and support.

We remain in close contact with the United Kingdom and other partners about the threat from terrorist groups active in Syria and Iraq and from returning foreign fighters.

As the Director-General of Security and I have said before, events in Syria and Iraq, and the large number of Australians participating in the conflict means Australia is facing its highest threat for some time.

Australia's National Terrorism Public Alert System level remains at 'Medium', which indicates that a terrorist attack could occur.

This level is under constant review by the Australian Government and is based on advice from security and intelligence agencies. Australia's threat level would be increased to 'High' if it were deemed that a terrorist attack is likely to occur.

The Government is taking all necessary steps to keep Australia and Australian interests safe.

•Date: 2nd September 2014 • US/Australasia •Type: Article • Topic: Terrorism


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