Saturday, November 01, 2014

01-Nov-14: UK's foreign ministry says there is a generalized terror threat to Brits

Prominent British Islamist Anjem Choudary: About Alan Henning, a British
humanitarian aid worker from Manchester beheaded by a British Islamist
in front of video cameras, the preacher asserts that "In the Koran it is 
not allowed for you to feel sorry for non-Muslims". [Image Source]
The UK's Foreign Office on Friday issued a "generalised threat" travel advice covering 225 countries, underlining the reality that Brits face
a heightened threat of terrorist attacks globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time. [Source]
Things appear not to have gotten better since August ["29-Aug-14: The British now call risk of a terror attack on the UK 'severe'"] when Theresa May, the UK's Home Secretary, announced that her country’s assessment of its terror threat risk level was being raised from "substantial" to “severe”. That change conveyed the message that an attack was considered “highly likely.” We quoted Associated Press at the time calling this the second highest level (out of five possible categories) on the scale, the highest it has been since July 2011. (The highest level is "imminent".)

So how this does impact on the feelings on ordinary British people? Not quite the way we probably imagine. It emerges, from a public opinion poll conducted by Populus [detailed tables online here - go to slide 21] and publicized last week, that
One in seven young adults in Britain has "warm feelings" towards the Islamic State terror group... 14 percent of under-25s in Britain view the group in a positive light, with 12 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds also thinking positively of the group...They found that a tenth of all Londoners and one in 12 Scots gave Islamic State a score of between six and 10, implying a level of sympathy with the group. However, the terror group is most popular with people aged under 25, with 14 percent rating them between six and 10.Jonathan Githens-Mazer, an associate professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, told the Times that some of Islamic State's support could be from a small but significant number of non-Muslims who feel disillusioned with the British government and foreign policy. He said that under-35s are especially sceptical of Britain's political elite and were instead turning to blogs promoting "anti-political" ideas... [Source: Breitbart, October 31, 2014]
There's much room in the data for speculating on where those "groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria" mentioned in Friday's Foreign Office warning are based, and whom they are targeting. While that report is entitled "Update to travel advice on the global threat from terrorism", and the Association of British Travel Agents has urged that British "holidaymakers should be alert but not alarmed", we are wondering whether travelers are the only segment of British society for whom escalated warnings are appropriate.

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