UK & World News

  • 29 August 2014, 18:49

'Poisonous Ideology' Behind Terror Threat

David Cameron has said the root cause of an increased terror threat to the UK is a "poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism".

The UK terror threat level was raised to severe from substantial on Friday, meaning a terrorist attack on the UK is "highly likely".

At a news conference in Downing Street, Mr Cameron said the Iraq war in 2004 was not to blame for the rise of Islamic State (IS), which has seized swathes of territory across Iraq and Syria to form an "Islamic caliphate" and carried out beheadings and mass killings.

He said: "The root cause of this threat to our security is quite clear: it is a poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism that is condemned by all faiths and by all faith leaders.

"It believes in using the most brutal forms of terrorism to force people to accept a warped world view and to live in an almost medieval state.

"It is vital we make this distinction between religion and political ideology.

"Islam is a religion observed peacefully and devotedly by millions. Islamist extremism is a poisonous political ideology supported by a minority.

"What we're facing in Iraq now withISILis a greater and deeper threat to our security than ever before. We have to confront this ideology at home and abroad."

It is the first time the terror threat level has been above substantial since July 2011.

Intelligence and security services believe at least 500 Britons have gone to fight in Syria and potentially Iraq.

Mr Cameron said the Government had already taken steps to counter the threat of jihadists returning to carry out attacks in the UK, but admitted there was still a need to fill "gaps in our armoury".

He said the Taliban had harboured and facilitated al Qaida terrorism, but IS was effectively a state run by terrorists.

"We could be facing a terrorist state on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a Nato member," he said.

"... we are in the middle of a generational struggle against a poisonous political ideology that I believe we will be fighting for years and probably decades."

He added that the murder of US journalist James Foley was "clear evidence - not that any more is needed - that this is not some foreign conflict thousands of miles from home that we can hope to ignore".

Mr Cameron said he would make a statement to the House of Commons on Monday about new legislation to make it easier to take passports away from people who have travelled abroad to fight.

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