'Highly probable' UK terror threat level to rise amid Israel-Hamas conflict, says former COBRA member

14 October 2023, 20:49 | Updated: 14 October 2023, 20:53

Colonel Richard Kemp said he thought the terror level would be increased
Colonel Richard Kemp said he thought the terror level would be increased. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Kit Heren

It is "highly probable" that the terror threat level in the UK will be raised next week amid tensions caused by Israel's conflict with Hamas, a former member of the government's top-level crisis response unit has told LBC.

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Colonel Richard Kemp, a former member of Cobra and commander of British forces in Afghanistan, told LBC's Natasha Devon that events in Gaza "has caused enormous rage" among many Muslim communities in Europe.

Israel has bombarded Gaza, killing over 1,000, after more than 1,000 of its own citizens were killed by a Hamas attack last Saturday, with more kidnapped. Israel's army is now preparing a large-scale ground invasion of Gaza to wipe out Hamas.

It has ordered Palestinians in the north of Gaza to flee, but there are fears many civilians will be killed in the ensuing conflict.

Some 50,000 people protested Israel's actions on the streets of London and other British cities on Saturday, with seven protests as some participants became violent.

Read more: Israel troops on Gaza border 'gearing up for a comprehensive offensive' as Netanyahu says 'the next stage is coming'

Read more: London pro-Palestine march turns ugly as protesters clash with police, setting off flares and fireworks, as 7 arrested

Colonel Richard Kemp speaks to Natasha Devon over UK's terrorism threat level

Colonel Kemp said: "I think what's happening in in Gaza now, has caused enormous rage among the Islamic population in Europe and other other parts of the world. And Hamas and Iran and other other extremist organisations are doing their best to provoke attacks against Jews.

And... they have mentioned Christians as being targets of the attack as well. And anyone, really, who supports Israel.

He added that the threat of terrorism is "very real".

Referencing the several deadly terrorists acts by Muslim extremists in the UK in recent years, Colonel Kemp said: "It doesn't take a great deal to to incite the kind of violence that we've seen on the streets of Britain, for example, many times in the last few years, whether it be driving vehicles and people sticking knives into people or blowing them up..."

The current UK threat level is 'substantial' - the third-highest on the scale. The government says that means a terror attack is likely.

Asked by Natasha whether the terror level would be increased in the UK, Colonel Kemp said it was likely to depend on concrete intelligence the security services obtained on specific terror threats.

He said: "Given what's going on in Gaza, and the fact that it's very likely to the situation is very likely to get even worse over the next few days and weeks. I think... it's highly probable it will be raised... in the UK."

Colonel Kemp urged Brits "to be vigilant, to be on the lookout for anything that's slightly suspicious."

He added that it was better to report any suspicious activity to the police and risk embarrassment than to ignore potential threats.

It comes after the terrorist attack in the northern French town of Arras that saw a teacher stabbed to death by a suspected Islamic extremist.

The Louvre, Gare-de-Lyon and the Palace of Versaille were later evacuated after a 'written threat' was made in the wake of the attack.