12 arrested in anti-terrorism swoop in Britain

Monday, December 20, 2010

LONDON - Police in Britain have arrested 12 men on suspicion of preparing a potential terrorist plot in an operation described by Scotland Yard as “absolutely necessary” to keep the public safe.

“The operation is in its early stages so we are unable to go into detail at this time about the suspected offences. However, I believe it was absolutely necessary at this time to take action in order to ensure public safety,” deputy Scotland Yard chief John Yates said in a statement.

The men, aged between 17 and 28, were detained by unarmed officers in dawn swoops “at or near their homes” in Cardiff, Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham and London.

Counter-terrorism sources described the operation as “significant” and said it was related to an investigation into “Al Qaeda-inspired terrorism”.

Earlier this year, intelligence sources in Europe and the US said they had uncovered the early stages of an Al Qaeda plot to carry out coordinated attacks in Britain, France and Germany.

Yates said police were searching a large number of premises in connection with Monday’s raids.

Sources said no explosives or dangerous materials had so far been found. But officers were investigating mobile phone records, laptops and other communication equipment.

The BBC said the police who undertook the raids were unarmed, suggesting that they were “not concerned” about the suspects carrying firearms.

The suspects were held at three police stations, including in London, Scotland Yard said. The men were all believed to be British citizens. Some were Bangladesh-born.

“The threat from terrorism to Britain remains real and serious,” said Yates. The threat level remained at severe, meaning that an attack was “highly likely”.

The police have at least 14 days to hold the men before charging or releasing them. According to statistics, on average just 30 percent of arrests made under the Terrorism Act in Britain lead to convictions.

Filed under: Terrorism

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