U.K. Terrorism Officials Arrest 7 More Suspects
Seven more terrorism suspects have been arrested and detained in the United Kingdom in what is now the fourth security-related incident this week as the world counts down to the London Olympics, which begin three weeks from today.
Police in the United Kingdom impounded a vehicle after a routine stop Saturday on a highway north of London, suspecting the driver didn't have valid car insurance. When police searched the vehicle, they found firearms and other material hidden inside.
"As soon as the items were discovered in the impounded vehicle, our priority was to protect the public by pursuing and arresting those we believed to be involved," Det. Chief Superintendent Kenny Bell said.
As a result, three men were detained Tuesday morning, with an additional three detained Wednesday evening, and one Thursday evening. Six of the suspects are ages 22 to 27 and are from the U.K.'s West Midlands, and one is a 43-year-old from West Yorkshire.
The arrests follow the six arrested Thursday in an early morning raid. New details that have emerged since those arrests indicate that it was three brothers and three other men who are suspected of being Islamic terrorists planning a strike in the U.K. during the Olympic Games.
One of the suspects is Muslim-convert Richard Dart, a former BBC security guard who uses the name Salahuddin al Britani, and rails against Britain's royals and Britain's military. Another one of the three suspects, detained in West London Thursday, is Jahangir Alom, a former community police officer in the United Kingdom.
Three of the men were arrested in a house approximately one mile from Olympic Park.
"There wasn't any specific threat to the Olympics," said Tobias Feakin, an expert on British security. "It's the fact that now the police intelligence services will act far earlier on in a plot, an active plot, because risk appetite is diminishing rapidly as we reach closer and closer to the Olympic Games."
Pre-Olympic security jitters are being felt across England, which might explain why a bus en route to London was pulled over Thursday, its 48 passengers marched onto the highway and kept in isolation for hours.
A passenger had called police when he spotted suspicious smoke. That led SWAT teams and police in hazmat suits descending on the bus. But it was a false alarm, caused by a passenger secretly smoking an electronic cigarette. Police are being accused of over-reacting.
But security is now as much a part of the Olympics as sports and sponsorships. The 2012 London Olympics will see the largest peace-time deployment of the British military. HMCS Ocean, Britain's largest warship, was on duty a year ago off the coast of Libya. When the games begin, it will be stationed on London's Thames River.
The first arrests related to this month's games occurred eight days ago, when two men were detained on suspicion of terrorism connected to the Olympic canoeing venue.
"I don't think that anybody should be alarmed by friendly military forces," U.K. Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said. "They know that there are the men, the equipment here ready to protect them if any threat should arise."