Terrorist plots to carry out atrocities on British soil are "advancing to a high level of readiness" and there is a "very high level of risk" to this country, the Foreign Secretary has said. Speaking ahead of a meeting of world leaders in London today on tackling the threat posed by Isil, Mr Hammond said that there is a "certainty" that jihadists are plotting to carry out terrorist attacks in the UK.
He told BBC Radio 4: "We are and have for some time been on a high level of alert for an attack of this nature. The job that we have is identifying attack planning and intervening at an early stage. There have been some remarkable successes over the last couple of years.
"There remains a certainty that planning for attacks is going on and a very high likelihood that we will get attacks advancing to a high level of readiness. We have been very successful so far in disrupting those attack plannings before they get to an attack being launched but we have to recognise the reality that there is a very high level of risk out there."
He said that the government has spent "hundreds of millions" on humanitarian aid and airstrikes in Iraq, but added that it will still be "months" before the Iraqi security forces are ready to begin fighting back.He said: "We stopped the Isil advance. Last Spring we were seeing Isil surging towards Baghdad in an apparently unstoppable movement.
The engagement of the Coalition, the beginning of air strikes against Isil positions, halted that advance and in some cases has begun to turn it back. "We are renewing and regenerating the Iraqi security forces, reequipping them, retraining them, re-organising them. But it will be months yet before they are ready to start significant combat operations against Isil."
The developments come as ministers prepare to host a major international summit on the threat of Isil in London today, which will be co-hosted by John Kerry, the US Secretary of State. The military coalition against Isil of more than 20 countries will meet for the first time to plan the next phase in the armed conflict with the jihadists in Iraq and Syria at the Lancaster House event.
By Steven Swinford