Tube workers in London found a bomb on an underground train Thursday, prompting the government to raise the threat level in the city to “severe.” The device didn’t detonate and no one was injured, but the incident is a reminder that Britain’s vulnerability to terrorism is increasing even as—or because—Islamic State now finds itself on the defensive in Iraq and Syria.
Police the next day detained a 19-year-old man on suspicion of plotting terrorism, although he hasn’t been charged. A search of a house in Devon in connection with the case turned up a second improvised explosive device on Saturday. Police later determined it would have been a dud, which is hardly cause for reassurance.
The heightened threat climate prompted International Development Minister Rory Stewart to warn on Sunday that Britain could face fresh attacks from Islamic State if the group tries to take revenge in Europe for its setbacks in Mosul and elsewhere. Islamic State has encouraged such retaliatory attacks in the past, targeting France in particular over its participation in air strikes. The U.K. is among the Western nations backing the Iraqi effort to liberate Mosul.
Britain has been fortunate to avoid a mass-casualty attack since the 7/7 bombings of 2005, but Theresa May can’t afford complacency.
The Prime Minister developed a good track record on antiterror policing and surveillance as David Cameron’s Home Secretary. She could enhance that record by insisting that immigrants assimilate British values, and by further enhancing the surveillance capabilities of the police and domestic intelligence service. More defense spending will also be necessary to revive the U.K.’s atrophied expeditionary capabilities for counterinsurgency and counterterror missions. CONTINUE AT SITE