UK Issues Broad Travel Warning


The United Kingdom has taken the nearly unprecedented step of releasing a warning to all potential international travellers from the state to be wary about their security. Typically, most countries, including the United Kingdom, only issue travel warnings for specific states where their citizens may travel. For example, if a region is experiencing violent conflict or a natural disaster, the UK Foreign Office will issue a travel warning concerning that particular area. However, in this travel warning all British travellers going to any country overseas have been warned that they may be targeted by members or sympathizers of the Islamic militant group ISIS. The United Kingdom has taken part of coalition actions against ISIS in the Middle East and has received information indicating that there may be a retaliatory attack against their citizens as a result.

Many other states, in addition to the United Kingdom, have also issued security advisories for their citizens. For example, Japan has issued warnings for commuters to be diligent about suspicious behavior or packages on their metro-rail system. These warnings and advisories are not being issued due to specific threats against any particular state or location, but rather generalized threats made by ISIS indicating that there may be an international attack sometime in the near future. As there are no known specific threats or targets, the UK Foreign Office can only issue a general warning rather than cautioning travellers in a defined region.

ISIS does have an international presence, which may mean that they may be capable of undertaking an attack. Individuals from around 80 countries have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the militant group and several countries in both Europe and North America have detained their own citizens who were caught attempting to smuggle themselves across international borders on behalf of ISIS. Officials in the United Kingdom have claimed that they estimate that at least five British residents a week have left the country to join ISIS. The total number of British nationals fighting for ISIS in the Middle East is estimated to be around 500. At least ten of these British-born fighters have died in either Syria or Iraq.

The terrorist group has also an established social media presence, which has potentially expanded their international support base. This terrorist organization’s ability to make themselves sympathetic to possible supporters is one of the reasons behind their ability to draw in a large number of foreign-born fighters. One of the more recent notorious postings on ISIS-run social media accounts is a series of images of armed fighters feeding small kittens.

The United Kingdom has also issued a domestic alert notice in August that stated that the threat level in the state had risen from substantial to severe. This means that an attack on British soil is very likely and that residents should be vigilant about their surroundings. As the RAF is undertaking daily excursions over ISIS-held territory, there are concerns that hostility against British citizens may increase in the region and the British government has warned against any travel to Syria.


Related posts: