Sun, Sep 03, 2006 - Page 6 News List

UK police arrest 14 men in anti-terror operation

AFP , LONDON

Police in London arrested 14 men in overnight raids who were suspected of planning terrorist actions, a spokesman said yesterday.

The police emphasized that the arrests were not linked to the ongoing investigation into the alleged plot revealed last month to blow up US-bound passenger jets.

"Officers from the Metropolitan Police's Anti-Terrorist Branch have arrested 14 men under the Terrorism Act 2000 in a pre-planned, intelligence-led operation," a Scotland Yard spokesman said.

"The arrests in south and east London follow many months of surveillance and investigation in a joint operation involving the Anti-Terrorist Branch, Special Branch and the Security Service," he said.

The men were arrested "on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism."

According to BBC radio, the men were arrested in a Chinese halal restaurant in south London that is popular with the local Muslim community.

Of the other two arrests, the BBC said one was in east London and the other was not specified.

The owner of the Chinese restaurant, Madi Blyani, told BBC radio that he had been surprised by the arrival of a large number of police officers.

"It was surprising because plenty of them suddenly came in all together. There were more than 50 or 60 of them," he said.

"They suddenly came inside because they were suspicious of some of the customers and they talked to them. They talked to them more than one hour, two hours. And they arrested some of them," he said.

A total of 25 people were arrested last month in connection with the foiled alleged terror plot to blow up US-bound passenger jets.

Five have since been released without charge, and 15 have been charged.

In an interview given to the BBC in July that is due to be screened as part of a documentary on al-Qaeda today, the head of the Metropolitan Police's anti-terrorist branch Peter Clarke revealed that thousands of British Muslims were under surveillance because of suspected possible terrorist involvement.

Asked how many Muslims were being looked at, Clarke replied: "I don't want to go down the numbers game, I don't think it's helpful ... all I can say is that our knowledge is increasing and certainly in terms of broad description, the numbers of people who we have to be interested in, are into the thousands."

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