First alleged Isil terror plot on UK foiled amid growing fears of beheadings -
Four men arrested in London suspected of plotting “significant” attack in UK with alleged links to Syria terror group Isil, Tom Whitehead, By Tom Whitehead, Security Editor
The first alleged Isil-linked terror plot on UK soil has been foiled by police and MI5 amid fears jihadists are returning from Syria to carry out beheadings on British streets.
Four men were arrested in dramatic armed raids in London during which one suspect had to be Tasered by police.
The men are feared to have been in the “early stages” of planning a “significant” attack and it is understood one line of inquiry is whether they wanted to emulate the sort of brutal execution that has become Isil’s hallmark on a British street.
Police and intelligence agencies have become increasingly concerned that the terror group, which has already beheaded four Western hostages, is encouraging similar attacks overseas.
Fears have heightened further after the UK joined air strikes against the terrorists.
Last month police in Australia arrested 15 suspected Islamist extremists amid fears they were planning random killings, including a public beheading.
During the same month, Algerian fanatics linked to Isil beheaded kidnapped French tourist Herve Gourdel in revenge for French air strikes in Iraq.
In August the UK terror threat level was raised to “severe” – its second highest – as David Cameron warned Isil was planning attacks on the UK.
The Daily Telegraph understands one of the men arrested had returned from Syria and had links with Isil – possibly as a fighter there.
It came as Mr Cameron demanded former Guantánamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg revealed what he knows of the terror group.
Mr Begg, who had terror charges against him dropped last week, said he believed he knew who the senior members of Isil that held British hostage Alan Henning and others were.
He said he did not know who their suspected British executioner – dubbed “Jihadi John” – was but suggested those in control were higher up the ladder.
Mr Cameron said: “If Moazzam Begg has information to provide about who these people are, he should provide it.”
Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism officers, supported by armed officers, raided a number of addresses in west and central London, including the Ladbroke Grove area.
Four men, two aged 21 and two aged 20, were arrested on suspicion of planning or instigating a terror attack.
One of the 21-year-olds was Tasered by an officer during the arrest but was not injured or required medical treatment.
The four men were being questioned at police stations in central London and officers were searching a number of homes and vehicles across the city.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “These arrests and searches are part of an ongoing investigation into Islamist related terrorism.”
The men had been monitored in a joint police and MI5 operation for some time and one Whitehall source said the raids were an “early disruption” of what could have been a “significant plot”.
Police would not discuss the specific nature of the alleged plot but it is understood part of the investigation will look at the possibility of a public beheading.
Other possible plans may be random killings in public places or some form of small arms attack.
Isil, led by fanatic Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has demonstrated its brutality with the beheading of four Western hostages in Syria and broadcasting the murders in videos.
They included the deaths of Britons David Haines and Alan Henning who had gone to the country to help Muslims.
The terror group, which has taken over large swathes of Iraq and Syria, has also attracted thousands of foreign jihadists to its cause, including more than 500 Britons.
Around half of those are believed to have returned home and intelligence agencies are concerned some may have been sent back to carry out attacks here.
In August, Mr Cameron, the Prime Minister, warned Isil posed the “greatest and deepest” terror threat in Britain’s history.
He spoke as the threat level was raised to severe, meaning an attack is “highly likely” in light of the growing danger from British jihadists returning from Iraq and Syria.
He said the risk posed by Isil would last for “decades” and raised the prospect of an expanding terrorist nation “on the shores of the Mediterranean”.
He warned he was “absolutely satisfied that Isil has specific threats and will make specific threats to the UK”.
The Prime Minister said: “It was clear evidence that this is not some foreign conflict thousands of miles from home that we can hope to ignore. The ambition to create an extremist caliphate in the heart of Iraq and Syria is a threat to our own security here in the UK.”
Counter terrorist police activity is now at its highest level since the 7/7 London bombings in 2005 because of the fears of such attacks.
The risk of a lone wolf or small group of fanatics carrying out basic but brutal murders, similar to the slaying of soldier Lee Rigby, is a major concern.
Last week an apparent British jihadist appeared in an Isil video calling on “all the brothers in the UK” to rise up.
The fanatics, believed to be Omar Hussein, said those who could not make the journey to Isil should wage jihad at home.
It is understood security services have identified six plots involving jihadi fanatics who have returned from Syria to launch attacks in Europe, including the UK, France, Italy and Holland.
In May, Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, who had fought with Isil in Syria, was arrested after three people were shot and killed in a Jewish museum in Brussels.