Fifth arrest in terror plot probe

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Published: Friday 10th October 2014 by The News Editor

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A fifth man has been arrested in connection with a suspected terrorism plot on the UK, Scotland Yard has said.

His arrest came hours after four other men were detained by police on Tuesday in a number of raids in west and central London but details could not be released at the time “for operational reasons”.

All have been arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism under the Terrorism Act.

Officers have been granted a custody extension until next Tuesday, October 14, to question the men, all aged between 20 and 21.

Counter-terror officers believe the raids were an “early disruption” of what could have turned into a “significant plot”.

Police said at least one of the suspects is believed to have travelled to Syria and one line of inquiry is to establish any possible links with Islamic State (IS), the extremist group behind the beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning.

A number of addresses and vehicles have been searched by specialist officers as part of the investigation.

Among the suspected extremists being questioned is medical student Tarik Hassane, 21, who lives near Ladbroke Grove in west London.

In a conversation on social networking site Ask.fm, “Tarik Hassane from Ladbroke” claimed to be studying medicine in Sudan after failing to get the grades needed for an offer to study at King’s College London.

He is thought to have enrolled last year on a course at the University of Medical Sciences and Technology in Khartoum.

According to reports he is believed to have travelled to Syria from there and returned to the UK on Sunday for the Muslim holiday of Eid.

On Monday, hours before his arrest, Hassane wrote on Twitter: “Oi lads … I smell war.”

But friends and neighbours said he was innocent and defended the tweet, claiming it was just banter.

Twitter user Dr Zorro, one of two friends mentioned in the tweet, said: “These idiots. He was talking about a Twitter war with a bunch of rowdy girls.”

It is understood that Hassane’s mother is Moroccan and works in a school.

The front door of the property where the family live on the Princess Alice housing estate showed signs of forced entry and has been boarded up.

Neighbours said that during the raid they heard several loud bangs, thought to have been stun grenades, as dozens of officers stormed the estate.

One neighbour, who did not want to give her name for fear of reprisals, said she heard that “police took the floor up” in the property.

“He was a really nice guy who loved his football,” she said. “He used to be a bit of a Jack the lad, but then he kept going to Morocco and around two years ago he started covering his tracksuit with a white dress, and then the Jesus creepers came in and he grew a beard. He started behaving shy with people he knew all his life. Everybody noticed it.”

Under terrorism laws, police could hold the men for 48 hours before they had to apply to a magistrate to detain them for longer, and the legislation allows for terror suspects to be held without charge for up to 14 days.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said: “It is one of a series of arrests that we have had over the last few weeks which, taken together, for me confirm that the drumbeat around terrorism has changed.

“It’s a more intense drumbeat – we are having to be more interventionist and a lot of it is linked back to Syria and Iraq.”

Another of the suspected terrorists has been named in reports as Rawan Kheder, who is was described by neighbours as “kind and respectful”.

Kheder, of Kurdish descent, is believed to be a student at London’s Metropolitan University and live with his parents in South Kensington.

Neighbour Nacer Dahmas, 58, told ITV he had known him since he was a child and always found him to be “elegant, kind and respectful with everyone”.

“I hope this is a mistake. They are a good family. His father has his own business. They are all intellectual and proud. It will be a terrible shock,” he said.

Published: Friday 10th October 2014 by The News Editor

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