Police raids foil capital terror plot (London)greenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
DAN MCDOUGALL CRIME CORRESPONDENT
SEVEN North African men were being interrogated by anti-terrorism detectives at a secure location in Glasgow last night, after they were detained in separate raids in Edinburgh and London.
The men, all in their late 20s and early 30s and believed to be of Tunisian and Algerian origin, were arrested at dawn yesterday in simultaneous raids in Scotland and England led by Lothian and Borders Police, MI5 and SO13, Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorism branch.
The arrests came as senior Whitehall sources confirmed for the first time that the al-Qaeda terror group was operating within the UK and that there was a "high probability" of an impending attack on a high-profile British target.
An SO13 source said the arrests related to a planned incident in the Lothians. A security expert yesterday suggested Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations could be a target, but senior police sources denied there was a link.
The suspects arrested in Edinburgh were taken into custody at 6am, following armed police raids on four addresses in Easter Road, Albion Road, Portobello Road and Piersfield Terrace, all within a one-mile radius of Meadowbank stadium.
The operation followed the detention on Monday of four Islamic radicals in France suspected of planning a chemical attack on a British target.
The French authorities said they believed that the group, arrested in a Paris suburb, had direct links with terrorists in the UK.
A source said specialist officers from SO13 assisted Lothian and Borders Police, adding: "It is fair to say the arrests were pertaining to a planned incident in the Lothian and Borders area. The London suspects are being transferred under armed guard to a secure location in Scotland."
A Lothian and Borders Police source distanced himself from claims of a specific threat to the Lothians area. He said: "We have no evidence whatsoever of a specific threat to the Lothian and Borders area.
"All seven men have been detained under the Terrorism Act 2000, and will be held at a secure location while inquiries continue."
Senior Whitehall sources stressed that while an attack on the UK was not inevitable, they believed it was likely.
One source said: "The probability is that sooner or later one of these groups, who are extremely determined, will get through. And, as we have seen elsewhere in the world, there is a wide variety of different things they can do.
"We can protect many obvious, high-value targets but then, as we have seen in Bali, they can go for the very soft target. We have frustrated attacks and will go on frustrating attacks but these groups are very determined."
Simon Dawson, 29, a teacher who lives directly opposite one of the flats involved in the raids, said: " I heard police cars screeching outside and I got up and looked out of my bedroom window.
"I saw the armed response team piling in the door. About 20 to 30 minutes later, they reappeared frog-marching two to three men out to the van. They were hog-tied and had bags over their heads."
Scottish Executive ministers were briefed on the operation as the Cabinet met in Edinburgh for its regular weekly meeting.
An Executive spokeswoman said: "The Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd, updated them very briefly without much detail on the arrests. Ministers have been kept up to date with what is happening."
Shortly after the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the US on 11 September 2001, the British government introduced emergency legislation allowing foreign nationals to be detained indefinitely without charge.
-- Anonymous, December 20, 2002