British Muslim soldier 'was target of terror plot'
Counter-terrorism police in the West Midlands today foiled a suspected plot to kidnap and torture a British Muslim soldier before beheading him live on the internet, Iraqi-style.If this "plot" was real, it was bizarre.
Police arrested eight men in a series of pre-dawn raids at 12 addresses in Birmingham, including four commerical premises. A ninth suspect was arrested this afternoon on a motorway in the Birmingham area in connection with the alleged plot.
No details have officially confirmed about the plot, but security sources said that it appeared to have been in its late stages. If confirmed, it will mark a chilling new tack for Islamic terrorism in Britain.
The sources said that the alleged plotters planned to force their victim to plead for his life in online videos before torturing him and executing him much as Ken Bigley, the Liverpool hostage, was killed in Iraq in October 2004. The beheading would have been shown live on an extremist website.
If it was fabricated, it was brilliant.
Here's more from The Times:
Police swooped before dawn to foil 'kidnap plot'
Locals in Jackson Rd, Alum Rock, were still asleep when the raid began at 4:40am, and peered out their windows to see white vans arriving in the street which lies to the east of BirminghamAway from what?
One man described being woken by the noise of windows being smashed as police raided the property nearby - one of a dozen targeted in the city in connection with the alleged terror plot.
"I was woken by a bang," said Abid Hussain. "I thought there had been an accident, I thought someone had crashed into my van.
"I looked into the street and saw eight or ten police in the street and more rushing into the house.
"I don’t think they were armed but some were wearing black suits. At about 5am, they took someone away."
Jasvinder Chahal, who owns Chahal News, a newsagent’s on the corner of Foxton Road, said he had arrived this morning at 5am to find police everywhere.Shocked and Scary. What do you know?
"I have been working in the shop for 20 years and have not seen anything like this before. It’s usually a nice peaceful area."
One neighbour, who lives a few doors away, said that a couple lived there with three children.
"My daughters were leaving for school at about 8.30 this morning when they saw police everywhere.
"The family are a nice family. I believe their children are aged between 10 and 14. I am really shocked and it’s really scary because it’s on our doorstep."
There's a hint of something in the air here -- can you smell it?
Raids also took place in the Sparkhill area of Birmingham where forensic officers began investigating another house, an Islamic bookshop and an internet cafe.Yes, I think I can smell it too!
The metal shutters of the Maktabah bookstore were cut by police while photographers worked inside.
Sohel Aslam, from Leicester, who was passing by as the raid was going on, said he had also visited the shop to buy books for his five children.
"There are a few places around which are quite extreme, but not this place," he said.
The third raid in Sparkhill happened around 800 yards further south along Stratford Rd, close to the junction with Showell Green Lane.You'd probably have to be a terrorist to suggest that all this commotion just may have been caused by somebody making what he thought was a joke in an internet chat room. But it wouldn't be the first time such a thing has happened.
Police were examing the inside of Blade Cybercafe and Communications, where a door at the rear had been forced open.
And you'd definitely have to be a terrorist -- or at least a terrorist sympathizer -- to question the timing of the raids, coming as they did after "months of surveillance" and just a few hours after Tony Blair's top fundraiser was arrested again!
BRITISH Labour Party chief fundraiser Michael Levy, a close ally of Prime Minister Tony Blair, has been arrested for a second time as part of a corruption investigation into party political funding.There's more on this story, of course, everywhere! The Australian has a good overview of how the tangled web began, and it's not pretty:
Lord Levy, who is Mr Blair's Middle East envoy, was arrested yesterday on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and later released, Scotland Yard said.
He became the second person close to the Prime Minister to be held under suspicion of perverting the course of justice.
Popularly known as "Lord Cashpoint", Michael Levy forged links with Tony Blair soon after the now Prime Minister became Labour leader in 1994.So ... with the stain of domestic corruption seeping ever closer to international war criminal Tony Blair, with the alleged Liquid Bombers plot having fallen apart and the prime suspect, Rashid Rauf, back in limbo in the Pakistani "justice system", Britain may have needed another jolt of fear, or perhaps Tony Blair may have felt that Britain needed such a thing.
The pair met at an Israeli diplomatic dinner and famously became tennis partners and friends soon afterwards. In 2000, Mr Blair even installed Lord Levy in the Foreign Office as his personal envoy to the Middle East, a move that rankled some seasoned diplomats.
And the implications, the ramifications, are absolutely incredible: IF it turns out that quiet, mild-mannered Muslim teenagers actually did plot to kidnap a soldier and behead him live on the internet, parents are going to start wondering: what is my child doing?
Oops! I spoke too late! They're wondering already. According to The Times:
Communities leaders claimed today that the terror raids have heightened the anxieties among the Muslim community.Or as the BBC reported:
Shabir Hussain, chairman of the Ludlow Road Mosque, near to the house in Jackson Road, Alum Rock, which was targeted by police, said that the raids were causing unease among local families.
"People don’t trust their own children any more. It’s causing difficulties inside families," he said.
"You feel like you should challenge your son or daughter: ‘Where are you going at night? What are you watching on TV? What are you doing on the internet?’ After this kind of thing, 100 per cent of families are worried."
Muslim community leader Shabir Hussain said the community should co-operate with the police and remain vigilant of unusual activity in their homes.So far, it's been the BBC with the best line of the day, attributed to their Home Affairs Correspondent, Daniel Sandford:
"The community is under stress," he said.
"They do not know where their children are, they do not know what they do. At the mosque we are saying 'open your eyes, look underneath your feet'."
He stressed the arrests were based on intelligence, which could prove to be wrong.But in the meantime we have this story floating around, about Muslims planning to behead another Muslim, so the Muslim community is turned inside out, but it's also a story about terrorists plotting against a soldier, so the whole nation is rocked in such a way that the ripple effects spread around the world at the speed of internet.
All in all, if this "plot" was real, it was very bizarre.
And if it was fabricated, it was absolutely brilliant.
Either way, it's a boost to the Phony War. And it also accelerates our trip down the road to Impending Police State.
That's not to mention the people who were arrested, some of whom (or even all of whom) might be totally innocent.
It wouldn't be the first time for that, either.
Mohamed Barber told BBC News his cousin was one of the men arrested in Alum Rock.You would think, if they were going to go to all the trouble of framing people, they would at least choose guys who go to Friday prayers. You would think...
"We can vouch for him he is innocent. He doesn't even have time to go to Friday prayers - that's how busy he is," he added.
Oh! Look over there! I think I see some wild geese!