Terrorism level is up, but Jews are not targets

Jews are not considered a specific target following the recent assessment that there is an increased chance of a terrorist attack in the UK.

Intelligence sources say the threat level has been elevated from substantial to severe — but a Whitehall official said: “We haven’t seen anything to suggest an imminent threat to the Jewish community.”

Around three-quarters of all investigations into terrorism have links to Pakistan, which is seen as far more significant than links to the conflict in the Middle East.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced the change in the threat level last Friday.

An audio recording, thought to be of Osama bin Laden, released at the weekend and addressed to President Obama, did make a direct reference to the conflict in the Middle East: “America will never dream of security unless we will have it in reality in Palestine.”

But UK security experts concur with the President view that the al-Qaeda statement is a sign of weakness rather than strength. Its claim of responsibility for the failed Christmas Day airline attack over Detroit and the use of the catch-all Muslim rallying cry of “Palestine” have been seen as a desperate attempt to demonstrate it is still a player on the terror stage. Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist activities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are thought to have alienated ordinary Muslims from the organisation. But the plight of the Palestinians remains a unifying cause.

The threat level had been at severe since the terrorist attacks on London in July 2005. It was reduced to substantial in July last year.

At the time, the CST judged that there had not been an equivalent drop in the level of threat to the Jewish community.

And following the latest assessment, the CST urged the community to remain vigilant. It said in a statement: “The government’s raising of the UK threat level does not seem to be linked to any intelligence relating to the UK Jewish community, but CST notes that it does coincide, in part, with the release of an audio recording claiming to be from Osama bin Laden that includes references to Israel.

“CST therefore advises all Jewish community locations to ensure that they maintain the security precautions and procedures that they already have in place.”

    Last updated: 4:40pm, January 28 2010