Pressure on U.S. to Update Terror Alert System After U.K. Raises Terror Threat Level

August 29, 2014 10:03 AM EDT

All eyes are on the U.S. to issue a public terror threat alert after key ally, The United Kingdom, raised its terror threat level to 'Severe' from 'Significant' on Friday.

This is the U.K.'s second highest level and comes amid new intelligence from Syria and Iraq, although no specific plot was known.

"The increase in the threat level is related to developments in Syria and Iraq where terrorist groups are planning attacks against the West,” U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May said in a statement today. "Some of those plots are likely to involve foreign fighters who have traveled there from the U.K. and Europe to take part in those conflicts.”

The move puts pressure on the U.S. to issue an alert from the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS). The NTAS replaced the color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System introduced during the Bush administration following the events of 9/11. To date, the NTAS has not issued a terror alert.

Speculation about an increased U.S. level followed recent comments from U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week on islamic extremist group ISIS. "This is beyond anything that we've seen," Hagel said. He said ISIS is not just a terrorist group and posses a bigger threat than al Qaeda.

"ISIL is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen," according to Hagel. "They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded."

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