Jihadi terrorists are at a “high level of readiness” to attack Britain, the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said. Mr Hammond told BBC Radio 4 there was a “very high level of risk” to the country.
He was speaking ahead of a meeting of world leaders London today to discuss how to respond to the growing threat posed by the Islamic State. The conference will be co-chaired by US Secretary of State John Kerry, and the attacks in Paris are expected to be high on the agenda.
Hammond said: “We are and have for some time been on a high level of alert for an attack of this nature. The job that we have is identifying attack planning and intervening at an early stage. There have been some remarkable successes over the last couple of years.
“There remains a certainty that planning for attacks is going on and a very high likelihood that we will get attacks advancing to a high level of readiness. We have been very successful so far in disrupting those attack plannings before they get to an attack being launched but we have to recognise the reality that there is a very high level of risk out there.”
The Foreign Secretary said that whilst the west had spent hundreds of millions to combat ISIS – which he refers to as ISIL because he does not concede they are a state – the Iraqis are still not ready to beat the terror group alone.
He said: “We stopped the Isil advance. Last Spring we were seeing Isil surging towards Baghdad in an apparently unstoppable movement. The engagement of the Coalition, the beginning of air strikes against Isil positions, halted that advance and in some cases has begun to turn it back.
“We are renewing and regenerating the Iraqi security forces, re-equipping them, retraining them, re-organising them. But it will be months yet before they are ready to start significant combat operations against Isil.”
Twenty countries will attend today’s meeting, which is being held at Lancaster House in central London. Security is expected to be tight as attacking the event itself would be a major coup for the terrorists.