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UK terror sweep nets 7 suspects



A large-scale counterterrorism operation conducted by MI5, Britain's security apparatus, along with Scotland Yard's counterterrorism command and West Midlands local police, has resulted in the arrests of seven suspects on terror-related charges. The suspects, six men and one woman, all aged 22-32, are reported to be involved in Islamic extremism and to be British citizens of Pakistani descent.

The operation began Sunday night and lasted well into Monday morning, concentrating on the Moseley, Sparkbrook, Sparkhill, Ward End, and Balsall Heath areas of Birmingham. The six men are being held under Britain's anti-terror legislation on "suspicion of the commission, preparation, or instigation, of an act of terrorism in the UK." The woman is being held under Terrorism Act 2000 for failing to disclose information relating to the plot. All of the arrests were made by unarmed officers, indicating that the plot had not materialized to the phase where the suspects would be in possession of weapons or explosives.

Police are refraining from releasing any specific information relating to the plot or its intended target, but the British media have reported that the potential attack would inflict mass casualties on British soil and that the plot was al Qaeda-inspired.

From the West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable for Security, Marcus Beale:

I fully understand that after a counter terrorism operation of this size, the public will want to know more details about what we suspect may have been going on - and what has prompted us to take this action.

For us - once the key issue of public safety has been addressed - and it has been for this operation - the main thing is to do all we can to investigate the matter professionally, thoroughly and fairly.

And in fairness to the suspects - and to any judicial proceedings which may or may not follow - I am sure you can appreciate that this means that I cannot discuss the details of alleged offences in public.

However, I can tell you this was a large-scale operation led by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit. The operation has been running for some time and has been subject to regular review. As a result of one of those reviews yesterday we decided that the time was right and moved to make six arrests during the night, with a further one a few hours later. The arrests were made by unarmed officers. All were arrested from either home addresses or nearby. All are from the Birmingham area, and with the exception of the female arrested, all are under terrorism detention.

We worked hard from early this morning to inform communities in the vicinity of the relevant addresses, stakeholders and partners about the action police officers were taking - and the feedback we have received so far has been supportive. I would like to encourage that if anyone has any information or concerns about the arrests, they can in confidence contact the anti-terrorism hotline number on 0800 789321.

In terms of what happens now, we are continuing to search a total of 14 properties. Some computer equipment has already been removed and is being examined. As I'm sure you are aware, that this may take some time.

I would like to make two final points at this stage. Firstly can I ask that speculation about targets or the identity of suspects be kept to a minimum as this is neither fair to them or to any judicial process which may or may not follow.

And finally, I would like to say that the fact that these arrests have occurred whilst the Liberal Democrat Conference in Birmingham is taking place is a complete coincidence.



READER COMMENTS: "UK terror sweep nets 7 suspects"

Posted by villiger at September 20, 2011 12:45 AM ET:

A little more information here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/8775198/Birmingham-terror-arrests-home-of-man-convicted-of-plot-to-behead-British-soldier-raided.html

Extraordinary thing, unarmed police made the arrests, asking do you have anything that might harm us? (!!!!)
And one arrest at a previous convict's house, who was released after 2 yrs of what seemed a pretty light sentence of 4 yrs for......read the link above!

Posted by Neonmeat at September 20, 2011 5:18 AM ET:

I live in Birmingham, UK, and to be honest I am not so surprised about this as we have had terror related arrests in this area of the City before.
The areas these men come from are pretty much entirely Muslim communities mainly made up of Pakistani and Somali families.
I have enjoyed eating in many of the restaurants in this area and have always found the people there to be very nice and friendly but there is also often Islamist Propaganda posted around the place.
I have never feared an attack in my city as we are so diverse and accepting and I believe Birmingham is the first city in Britain where Black and Asian ethnicities (including a very large Muslim Community) outnumber Caucasians.
On an amusing side note we also used to have a Muslim place of worship called 'Saddam Hussein Mosque', it changed name shortly before the Iraq invasion.

Posted by Kent Gatewood at September 20, 2011 8:37 AM ET:

How likely is it that after trial, conviction, prison, these individuals will have their right to remain in England taken away?

Posted by Neonmeat at September 20, 2011 10:52 AM ET:

@ Villiger
I know it is ridiculous the man wanted to behead someone live on the internet and served less than 2 years of his lenient 4year sentence thanks to good behaviour!
So are we expected to believe he's changed his mind about destroying the country that has housed and welcomed him and his family. Looking at the recent article here on LWJ regarding recidivism rates at Guantanamo I doubt it.
@ Kent Gatewood
They will never be kicked out as if family members are UK residents I believe it is seen as a breach of Human Rights to separate them from their family. Although I believe most of these men are actually natural born UK citizens who are merely of Pakistani descent, therefore the UK is there home anyway. What annoys me is that one of the men reportedly lived in Council run housing which means he wanted to destroy the system that has freely given him as a basic right a home and money for clothes and food. This demostrates the hypocrisy I believe can be found in a lot of these so-called 'homegrown terrorists'. They enjoy the benefits and comforts of Western Capitalist Democracies while simultaneously declaring they want to tear it down.

Posted by Neonmeat at September 20, 2011 10:56 AM ET:

@ Villiger
Its the classic polite British way of doing things!
There was a raid about a year ago in London against a group of wrongly accused Muslim men where they did use guns and ending up shooting one of the suspects and then got sued for it.

Posted by villiger at September 20, 2011 12:30 PM ET:

Kent, zero. These are British citizens, likely born in Britain too. The Brits were not very smart in the caliber of immigrants they allowed in, in the '60s thru probably 2000 or whatever.
---
Neonmeat:
'I have never feared an attack in my city as we are so diverse and accepting and I believe Birmingham is the first city in Britain where Black and Asian ethnicities (including a very large Muslim Community) outnumber Caucasians.'

What about Leicester, Luton...?
Whatever, you're probably safer there as they will want to minimise any casualties of their own people!

Btw if its the first in Britain where Africans and Asians outnumber White Caucasians, that would mean its the first in Europe too? A model for the future of Europe? Something to ponder over!

Posted by Paul D at September 20, 2011 3:00 PM ET:

British born Pakis come to mind when i heard about the raids.The second generation seem alot more radical than the first who wanted a quiet life.

Neonmeat-Dont forget London where one in 3 are born overseas!

Posted by Neonmeat at September 22, 2011 10:41 AM ET:

@ Villiger
Indeed there are many cities in Britain that have massive Pakistani immigrant populations, Bradford comes to mind areas of which are practically no go for non-asians. However I can only comment on my own and as I say I have never feared we would be attacked.
@ Paul D
Indeed it is the 2nd generation that seem the most radical. IMO it is because the initial generation came to Britain and made efforts to fit in and join as part of this society which must have been totally alien to them. The 2nd generation however are suffering a clash of idenities, between what they see as their 'traditional' identity as Pakistani Muslims and with the Modern identity as British citizens. So I see it two ways they either become 'westernised' or revert to a version of Islam that even their parents would probably find extreme.

Posted by Charu at September 22, 2011 8:16 PM ET:

No surprises. Birminghamstan and the rest of the UK are just reaping the harvest of decades of Pakistani immigration. Consider, in stark contrast, how the Indian immigrants there are a model minority who have nicely assimilated into the British society. Or, for that matter look no further than the disproportionate number of Pakistanis (and Somalis) arrested for terrorism in the US.