U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday proposed sweeping new anti-terror legislation he said would help to mitigate the threat to Britain from the group calling itself the Islamic State (also ISIS or ISIL).
In a speech to the House of Commons on Monday, Cameron proposed giving British police the temporary power to seize the passports of British citizens who are suspected of attempting to travel to join or support the terror group.
“We will introduce specific and targeted legislation … providing the police with a temporary power to seize a passport at the border during which time they will be able to investigate the individual concerned,” Cameron said.
According to CNN, Cameron also announced he would introduce legislation of his own providing police “enhanced use of exclusion zones” or “relocation powers” to aid police in tracking potential supporters of ISIS.
The sweeping new moves come in response to the British government’s raising of the country’s terror threat level to “severe,” the second-highest of five potential levels. According to the government, it means an attack is “highly likely,” but there was no specific intelligence to indicate an imminent attack on U.K. soil.
In a statement delivered from Downing Street in London on Friday afternoon, Cameron hinted at the coming push for legislation, saying Britain was facing a “greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before.” He said confronting ISIS was part of a generational struggle that he thought could last “decades.”
“Poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism is the root cause of the terror threat,” Cameron said. “We will always act with urgency when needed.”
The West — particularly the U.S. and U.K. — have increased their warnings about ISIS in the wake of the group’s brutal murder of American journalist James Foley last month. A 23-year-old former British rapper is considered a prime suspect in Foley’s beheading.
At least 500 people from Britain have traveled to Middle Eastern regions to join ISIS, Cameron said Friday. Western officials have warned about the possibility of ISIS fighters holding Western countries’ passports travelling back to those countries to plan and possibly launch attacks.
“We have all been shocked and sickened by the barbarism we have witnessed in Iraq this summer, the widespread slaughter of Muslims by fellow Muslims, the vicious persecution of religious minorities such as Christians and Yazidis, the enslavement and raping of women and, of course, the beheading of American journalist James Foley with the voice of what seems to have been a British terrorist recorded on that video,” Cameron said Monday.
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