LONDON (CNN) — British police are preparing for “enormous and spectacular” potential attacks on the UK as ISIS moves into its “next natural phase,” Britain’s senior counterterrorism officer said Monday.
Mark Rowley, assistant commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, said that in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, ISIS had moved on from a “narrow focus on police and military as symbols of the state, to something much broader.”
“You see a terrorist group that has big ambitions for enormous and spectacular attacks, not just the types that we’ve seen foiled to date,” he said, citing as another example the downing of Metrojet Flight 9268.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing of the jet over Sinai in October. All 224 people on board — most of them Russian — were killed.
An ISIS cell of gunmen and suicide bombers carried out the massacre in the French capital in November, killing 130 people as they attacked venues including a concert hall, restaurants and a sports stadium.
Rowley made the comments at a weekly briefing and later expanded on his comments to CNN. He said he was speaking about a general threat profile, and not on specific intelligence on a known terror plot.
ISIS, a Sunni terror group, controls territory in Syria and Iraq where it has declared a so-called Islamic caliphate.
It regularly carries out terror attacks in those countries, and has conducted or inspired more than 70 terrorist attacks in 20 other countries as well. The group has called on sympathizers worldwide to attack non-Muslims.
The current threat level for international terrorism in the UK remains severe, meaning an attack is “highly likely.”