18 Jun 2014

Cameron says Isis planning attacks in UK

David Cameron tells MPs it is wrong to think that violence in Iraq is “nothing to do with us” because Islamist militants are “planning to attack us here at home in the United Kingdom”.

Referring to a series of attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Isis), the prime minister said the group hoped to establish “some sort of extreme Islamist regime in the middle of Iraq”, which would affect Britain.

But he told the Commons “it would be a mistake to believe that the only answer to these problems is the hard attack of direct intervention; we know that that can create problems of itself”.

A better approach, he said, was to be “long term, hard-headed, patient and intelligent with the interventions that we make”.

But in a message to Iraq’s Shia-dominated government, Mr Cameron said it was important that the minority Sunnis and Kurds of the country were also represented. Isis, a Sunni organisation, has been carrying out attacks against Shias.

Mr Cameron warned against assuming that we could ignore what was happening in Iraq, saying that the UK should help governments in the region “close down the ungoverned space” and remove support for extremists: “if we do that, not just in Syria, but we have to help in Iraq, in Somalia, in Nigeria, in Mali, because these problems will come back and hit us at home if we don’t.”

UK terrorism measures:
In March, James Brokenshire MP told the home affairs select committee that the passports of 14 British nationals had been confiscated since April 2013, to disrupt the travel plans of people thought to be intending to take part in extremist activity, terrorist training or fighting.
Downing Street has confirmed that 40 people were arrested earlier this year for “Syria-related activities.”

The prime minister announced a £2m increase in Britain’s humanitarian aid contribution to Iraq, taking the total budget to £5m so far.


He defended the government’s decision to re-open the British embassy in Tehran, following Shia Iran’s offer to help the Iraqi government in its battle with Isis.

This followed a warning from Labour leader Ed Miliband that “although Iran opposes Isis, the Iranian regime in the past has shown that it does not support a vision for an inclusive and democratic state in Iraq”.

Mr Cameron was asked what risk Britons fighting with Isis posed to the UK. He said: “The estimates given so far is around 400 people from the UK have taken part in fighting with Isis, but those numbers are much more based around what is happening in Syria, rather than what is happening in Iraq where we have considerably less information.

“The estimates are now this is a greater threat to the UK than the return of foreign jihadis or fighters from Afghanistan or Pakistan region, and we need to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep our country safe.”