Cameron plans to seize suspects’ passports in response to terrorist threat
Prime minister announces plans for legislation to deal with increased security threat posed by homegrown militants.
David Cameron announced plans to introduce new powers to strip terrorist suspects of their passports to tackle a “greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before”.
In a hastily convened press conference at Downing Street, the prime minister said he would announce legislation to deal with the security threat posed by homegrown militants.
The measures, set to be announced in the Commons on Monday, would be the first new counter-terrorism powers to be introduced since Islamic State (Isis) militants took hold of large swaths of Syria and moved into Iraq.
Cameron said urgent action was needed to address the “poisonous narrative of Islamist extremism” and specifically Isis, a terrorist group he said was planning to establish a state on the shores of the Mediterranean.
He was speaking hours after the UK threat level was raised from substantial to severe for the first time since 2010. This means that an attack is deemed to be “highly likely” – although not necessarily imminent.
Cameron said: “There’s no doubt in my mind that Isil [Isis] is targeting all of us in western Europe. The attack in the Jewish museum in Brussels was perhaps the clearest indication yet that this is an organisation that wants to kill entirely innocent people in pursuit of its agenda. I’m absolutely satisfied that Isil would make specific threats to the UK as well.”
Setting out the scale and nature of the government’s response to the threat, Cameron said that 500 Britons are believed to have left the UK to fight in Syria and Iraq. He said he was “shocked and sickened” by the beheading of the American journalist James Foley in an Isis propaganda video presented by a British-accented fighter.
He said: “It 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. The ambition to create an extremist caliphate in the heart of Iraq and Syria is a threat to our own security here in the UK.”
Cameron said the threat could not be solved by dealing with the perceived grievances towards western foreign policy, adding: “The root cause of this threat to our society 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 – a state in which its own citizens would suffer unimaginable brutality, including barbaric beheadings of those who refuse to convert to their warped version of Islam, the enslavement and raping of women, and the widespread slaughter of Muslims by fellow Muslims. And, of course, the exporting of terrorism abroad.”