London 2012 Olympics: Muslim converts held over 'Games plot'
TWO Muslim converts have been arrested in East London on suspicion of plotting an attack against the London 2012 Olympic Games canoeing venue.
Sources told The Daily Telegraph that the arrests were based on a tip-off after men were seen behaving suspiciously close to the venue in Waltham Abbey, Hertfordshire on Monday.
Hertfordshire police officers began combing the banks after three men were seen in a dinghy on the River Lea.
The two men, aged 18 and 32, were arrested at separate residential addresses in east London, by officers from the Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism Command, at 7am on Thursday.
They were detained under the Terrorism Act 2000 on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism and held at a central London police station. Officers were last night searching two addresses in East London.
A friend of the arrested men named the 18-year-old as Jamal ud-Din and said the older man was someone he knew only as “Zakariya.”
Mizanur Rahman, 29, said the arrests “might have had something to do with the fact that they recently went canoeing” on the River Lea, a branch of which runs through the Olympic site in east London.
“It’s just people trying to get into the Olympic spirit,” he said, but he believed the authorities would try “painting it as jihad training.”
Residents living in the Hazlemere marina, near the Olympic canoeing venue, reported a significant police operation, involving up to 30 officers, had been launched after several men were seen behaving suspiciously in a dinghy on Monday night.
It took detectives another two days before dawn raids were carried out in East London.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We can confirm that inquires were carried out by Hertfordshire police who have been liaising with Met police counter-terrorism command.
“At approximately 07:00 hrs today, Thursday June 28, officers from the counter-terrorism command arrested two men under the Terrorism Act 2000 on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.
“The men were arrested at separate residential addresses in east London. Both addresses are currently being searched under the Terrorism Act 2000.”
The arrests come just under a month before the start of the Games, which open in London on July 27.
In one of the biggest vetting operations in 70 years, the backgrounds of half-a-million people have been screened amid concerns the Games remain threatened by terrorism.
Intelligence officials have reported an increase in chatter among extremist groups but have said there was no specific or credible threat targeting the Olympics.
The terror level is currently at substantial, a notch below severe. A substantial threat level indicates that an attack is a strong possibility.
Both MI5 and Scotland Yard have reportedly hundreds of investigations “live”. The main Olympic Park will be protected by the biggest peacetime security operation ever seen in Britain.
The Daily Telegraph has reported that senior security officials have become concerned that other sites around the country could also become targets.
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that a ring of ground-to-air missile launchers could be deployed around London to protect Olympic venues.
The security service is reported to be braced for a potential deluge of information from foreign police forces and intelligence agencies.
In March, the director-general of MI5, Jonathan Evans, took the rare step of briefing the whole Cabinet on the terrorism threat to the UK in the run up to the Olympics.