Looking at the Home Office website today, and reading several reports in the newspapers, the threat level from Northern Ireland terrorism on the mainland has been reduced to moderate. In Northern Ireland it remains severe. The threat level from what is described as 'international terrorism' is regarded as substantial - which means an attack is considered a strong possibility.
The downgrading of Northern Ireland terrorism is on one level rather odd - it is after all only a few months since we were being told the Real IRA and/or similar groups planned to attack London 2012. And dissident Republicans have kept themselves fairly busy in N Ireland. Could it be any 'threats' to the Olympics were somewhat overstated? Sinn Fein, and parts of the Irish media, certainly think so. Does The Guardian's Henry McDonald's Olympic eve story about Republican dissidents co-operating with each other now need to be seen in a different light?
The real paradox with 'threat levels' is however what goes unsaid. The occasional cases of far-right activists fiddling with explosives and getting themselves arrested show no sign of abating - by the law of averages one of these individuals, or possibly a small group of white supremacists - will at some stage construct and detonate a device, again, in the UK. The Norwegian terrorist attacks conducted by Anders Breivik will have concentrated the minds of the UK Security Services and political police concerning fascist violence - yet any such thinking goes unmentionned in the Home Office threat statements.
Similarly the term 'international terrorism' is in many ways a misnomer. If we are talking about the type of Jihadist attacks conducted on 7/7 or 21/7, referring to them as 'international' is pushing it - these were attacks constructed and carried out in Britain, by British citizens.
By a similar approach the various groups to emerge from Al-Muhajiroun in the past decade, plus Al-Muhajiroun itself, are recorded on the Home Office's list of international proscribed organisations. All despite the fact that many members of Al-Muhajiroun appear to have been born within sound of Bow Bells, and their focus is to install shariah in this country. The Home Office though is not about to present us with a 'British Jihadist threat level' indicator on its website.
The Home Office threat level needs to be seen for what it is - a bureacratic and PR exercise which pays lipservice to whatever 'intelligence' exists behind the scenes. We can be sure of one thing though. If there is a terrorist attack tomorrow, they will promptly raise the level again............