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Great Britain Raises Terror Attack Level To 'Severe'

The British government is raising its terror threat level to severe, saying a new terrorist attack in Britain is likely. The United States recently raised security measures following a failed bombing attempt on a U.S. bound plane in late December.

British Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced the British terror threat level was going up one notch on Friday. "The Joint Terrorism Analysis Center has raised the threat level on terrorism to the UK from substantial to severe. This means a terrorist attack is highly likely," he said.

Johnson did not give any background on the new threat level, saying the British government does not disclose its intelligence for such matters. Britain has a five-tiered worded alert system, and severe is the second highest level, as Johnson explained. "I have to emphasize the fact it does not mean an attack is imminent," he said.

When an attack is deemed imminent, the highest level of the alert system, called critical, is reached.

The United States government uses a color coded system for its own alerts. The U.S. aviation sector currently has an orange threat level, indicating a high risk of a terrorist attack.

The rest of the country is deemed at the yellow level, indicating a significant risk.

Security has been increased in recent weeks at American airports, as well as on incoming and outgoing planes. U.S. intelligence officials have warned al-Qaida's branch in Yemen is plotting new attacks.

The young Nigerian man (Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab) charged with trying to blow up the Detroit-bound plane from Amsterdam with explosives in his pants on December 25 spent several months in Yemen before his failed attack. Prior to that, he had studied several years in London.