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From England: Stroke of luck that may have stopped Olympic massacre
Stroke of luck that may have stopped Olympic massacre:
Seven arrested after 'guns found' in car impounded by police over claims of lack of insurance
By STEPHEN WRIGHT, JAMES SLACK and ANDY DOLAN
PUBLISHED: 04:35, 7 July 2012 | UPDATED: 04:35, 7 July 2012
A stroke of luck may have helped police prevent a high-profile terrorist attack in the run-up to the Olympics, it emerged yesterday.
A routine stop by officers on the M1 led to the discovery of two guns, ammunition and other weapons ‘hidden’ in a car.
Seven suspected Islamic extremists were later arrested.
Arrested: British Muslim convert Richard Dart spent two years working for the Met Police.
He was one of six people detained by police across London yesterday
Alert: Seven men have been arrested on suspicion of terror offences after firearms and other weapons were found 'hidden' in a car after it was stopped by police on the M1 in South Yorkshire (pictured)
The discovery fuelled speculation that a suspect terror cell planned to go on the rampage in a scaled-down version of the Mumbai terror attacks which left 174 people dead in 2008.
The arrests deepened fears that fanatics may be plotting mass murder during the Games. Today is the seventh anniversary of the July 7 attacks in London in 2005.
Security officials have said that terrorists are most likely to attack targets outside the capital.
They also concede that a strike against a major provincial town or city would be seen as an attack on the Olympics – grabbing world-wide publicity.
Whitehall officials have confirmed that a target had been identified.
West Midlands Police said that following the M1 traffic stop, three men aged 23, 26 and 27 from Sparkhill, Birmingham, were arrested on Tuesday morning.
Three more suspects, a 22-year- old from Alum Rock, Birmingham, a 24-year-old from the Moseley area of the city, and a 22-year-old from Smethwick, West Midlands, were arrested on Wednesday evening.
A 43-year old man from Kirklees, West Yorkshire – close to Dewsbury where 7/7 bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan lived – was detained on Thursday.
While there was a huge sigh of relief that detectives had thwarted a possible ‘spectacular’, there were concerns over the length of time it took police to discover the weapons.
The arrests deepened fears that fanatics may be plotting mass murder during the Games.
Today is the seventh anniversary of the July 7 attacks in London in 2005
The vehicle was pulled over during a routine stop between junctions 33 and 34 on the southbound M1 near Sheffield last Saturday.
It was impounded on suspicion of having no insurance, but the driver and passenger were not taken into custody and the car not searched.
On Monday, the vehicle was searched by police and the arms cache discovered.
It is understood a member of staff routinely patrolling the compound may have spotted something suspicious.
Background inquiries on the driver and passenger then revealed they were possible Islamic extremists known to the security services. A massive operation was launched to arrest them and several associates.
The fact that five other men were arrested, as well as those in the car, led to speculation police had moved in on a list of known associates.
South Yorkshire Police defended the delay in finding the weapons. It said: ‘This was a routine traffic police stop.
‘A search of the vehicle would have required grounds for suspicion. There was nothing initially to indicate that these kinds of items were being carried. Items were later discovered at the vehicle compound.’
Two firearms were recovered. Neither was automatic and they were not loaded, police said. There was also a small amount of ammunition.
Detective Chief Superintendent Kenny Bell, head of the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, said:
‘As soon as the items were discovered in the impounded vehicle, our priority was to protect the public by pursuing and arresting those we believed to be involved.’ Police said the contents of the car, which was stopped close to the Meadowhall shopping centre, were undergoing forensic analysis and the suspects’ homes had been searched.
All seven men are being held in the West Midlands.
Sources said their arrests are not connected to the detention of six people in London on Thursday, who were believed to have been plotting a terrorist attack to coincide with the Olympics. According to a report yesterday, the gang may have been planning to use a sword.
Officers have not ruled out the possibility that both sets of suspects were planning an attack to mark the 7th anniversary today of the July 7 attacks which claimed 52 lives.
Police hope that computers and phones seized during the arrests, as well as scrutiny of the suspects’ travel movements, will provide further clues about their intentions. The arrests may help to explain the huge police response to the fake cigarette ‘terror alert’ which brought the M6 Toll to a standstill in Staffordshire on Thursday.
Dozens of armed officers, troops, firefighters and bomb disposal experts swooped on the scene after a coach passenger reported smoke coming from a bag. It later emerged the alert was prompted by a passenger using an electronic cigarette which emitted a vapour.
The UK terrorism threat level is unchanged from ‘substantial’, which means a terrorist attack is a ‘strong possibility’. There are two higher levels –’severe’, meaning an attack is ‘highly likely’, and ‘critical’, meaning an attack is ‘expected imminently’.
Police last night revealed they have been given more time to question six men from the West Midlands who have been arrested on suspicion of planning terrorist acts.
Officers now have until Wednesday to charge or release them or apply for a further warrant.
Additional reporting by Chris Brooke.
Here is a programme about Richard Dart, pictured and mentioned above.
ANALYSIS BY JACK DOYLE, HOME AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT
Killing spree: One of the Mumbai gunmen in 2008
Britain's security services have been haunted by the spectre of a Mumbai-style terror attack on these shores for four years.
In November 2008, gunmen went on the rampage in India’s largest city, attacking hotels and public buildings. They murdered more than 170 and injured hundreds more in four days of bloodshed.
Since then, UK counter-terrorism officers have been braced for a similar
They were forced to consider how to deal with terrorists fanning out across a city, in what two ex-SAS commanders said would be akin to a ‘slow-motion 9/11’.
Millions have been spent upgrading heavy weaponry available to armed response teams.
More officers were trained, including a squad of 100 with automatic weapons inside the British Transport Police.
It is also thought SAS teams not on duty overseas have been put
on standby to deal with hostage situations.
The two guns and the small amount of ammunition seized on the M1 does not bear comparison to the armoury available to the Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai. But if they
were unleashed on a British shopping centre or at a crowded sporting event – the potential loss of life could be just as horrific.
Stroke of luck that may have stopped Olympic massacre: Seven arrested after guns found in car impounded by police over lack of insurance | Mail Online
A lie can run around the world before the truth can get its boots on.
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Re: From England: Stroke of luck that may have stopped Olympic massacre
The most shocking aspect of this article is with everyone driving on the wrong side of the road, they are going to kill somebody. Look at them!!!!!
Seriously, glad these individuals were caught and a tragedy avoided. I read a few articles about security in London for the Olympics and that place is pretty secure. Would take a miracle for something to get past them.
"The oldest picture book in our possession is the midnight sky" - E. W. Maunder
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Re: From England: Stroke of luck that may have stopped Olympic massacre
I'll be glad when the teenaged bomber fad goes out of popularity.
Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.
--P. J. O'Rourke
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