Seven held in police raid to forestall 'terror' attacks


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Anti-terror police have arrested seven people after a long-running intelligence operation into a suspected "international" threat from Islamic extremists.

Unarmed officers raided 14 addresses across Birmingham on Sunday night after taking the decision to step in "to ensure public safety". Forensic teams took away computer equipment and a car for further investigation while searches continued at the properties.

West Midlands Police declined to comment on the possible target of any attack.

Six men aged between 25 and 32 were arrested at their homes on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of terrorism in the UK. Among them was a taxi driver, a gym instructor and an Islamic preacher, according to neighbours.

A 22-year-old woman was arrested early yesterday on suspicion of failing to disclose information contrary to the Terrorism Act 2000.

It is the biggest raid of its kind in Britain since a series of dawn swoops in Cardiff, Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham and London before Christmas, in which 12 people were arrested in an operation co-ordinated by West Midlands Police and involving MI5.

Two of the arrests on Sunday night took place in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham, one of two largely Asian suburbs of the city, where 217 CCTV and automatic-number-plate-recognition cameras were deployed in a £3m anti-terrorist initiative.

They were taken down in June following anger from the local community and threats of legal action.

West Midlands Police's Assistant Chief Constable for Security, Marcus Beale, said the intelligence-led inquiry had been going on for some time and had been subject to a series of reviews.

"As a result of one of those reviews... we decided that the time was right and moved to make six arrests during the night, with a further one a few hours later," he said.

The suspects are being held for questioning at an unnamed police station in the West Midlands Police area, where they can be detained for up to 14 days.

The terrorism threat for England and Wales remained unchanged at "substantial" which means there is a strong possibility of attack.