Friday 23 February 2018

Suspect linked to al-Qaeda plane bomb plot arrested in Britain

Tom Whitehead and Caroline Gammell

A member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was arrested in Britain for allegedly plotting an attack in the UK, the British Home Secretary Theresa May has said.

The suspect was an "associate" of the terrorist group, which was linked to last week's cargo plane bomb plot in which ink printer cartridges were loaded with enough dangerous explosive to blow up aircraft.

In her first speech on security, Mrs May warned such threats will continue against the country and that the police and security services were working to disrupt al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives in this country.

Mrs May also warned that the threat of AQAP and its capability in Yemen was increasing.

Mrs May said: "An AQAP associate was arrested here earlier this year.

"He is alleged to have been planning a terrorist attack in this country. Threats such as these are likely to continue."

Her disclosure about the arrest earlier this year came a day after the conviction of a female student who tried to murder former Labour minister Stephen Timms because she was inspired by a radical AQAP cleric.

British-born Roshonara Choudhry had watched a series of sermons on the internet which were preached by Anwar al-Awlaki, who is wanted in connection with the cargo plane bomb plot.

Ministers have called on the White House to put pressure on US websites - such as Youtube - to remove propaganda videos from figures such as al-Awlaki.

During her speech, the Home Secretary also warned that Somalia will become a terror hotbed if "left to its own devices" plotting attacks on the UK.

"We know that people from this country have already gone to Somalia to fight," she said.

"It seems highly likely, given experience elsewhere, that if left to their own devices we would eventually see British extremists, trained and hardened on the streets of Mogadishu, returning to the UK and seeking to commit mass murder on the streets of London."

Mrs May added: "Most threats to the UK continue to come from the federally-administered tribal areas of Pakistan.

"When we have a Pakistani diaspora of over one million people, and there are hundreds of thousands of journeys between our countries every year, what goes on in Pakistan matters on the streets of Britain."

She said: "Where necessary we will enhance our protective security measures; we will invest in conflict prevention and stopping terrorist plots overseas; we will refocus the strategy for preventing radicalisation in the UK; and we will strike a better balance between our liberties and our security.

"There is much good work under way to tackle the terrorist threat.

"But where there needs to be change I will not be afraid to make it."

She added: "I want an approach which is more targeted against extremist individuals, but that impacts much less on the good people of our communities.

"I want an approach which allows people to enjoy their liberty in safety and security.

"And I want an approach that is effective in dealing with an evolving threat. That is what we will deliver."

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