Twelve men have been arrested in a major national counter-terrorism operation, West Midlands Police said.
The men – five from Cardiff, four from Stoke-on-Trent and three from London – were detained on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism in the UK.
The suspects, aged between 17 and 28, were detained by unarmed officers at approximately 5am on Monday.
West Midlands Police said: “All were arrested at or near their home addresses, with the exception of one suspect from Stoke who was at a domestic property in Birmingham.
“Searches are now being conducted at the home addresses, plus the address in Birmingham and another residence in London.”
The operation is being led by Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne, the Senior National Co-ordinator Terrorist Investigations, and is being coordinated from the West Midlands Counter-Terrorism Unit. It also involves the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, South Wales Police and Staffordshire Police, a spokesman said.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates, national lead for counter-terrorism policing, said: “This is a large scale, pre-planned and intelligence-led operation involving several forces. The operation is in its early stages so we are unable to go into detail at this time about the suspected offences. However, I believe it was necessary at this time to take action in order to ensure public safety.
The arrests come after intelligence agencies in Europe, Pakistan and the US intercepted a credible Islamic plot to launch raids on European cities, in a similar style to the attacks in Mumbai, India, two years ago, in which more than 170 people were killed during a 24-hour co-ordinated assault by 10 gunmen in November 2008. It has been blamed on Pakistani militants.
The planned attack in September would reportedly have been similar to the deadly commando-style raids in Mumbai, with other European cities, in France and Germany, also targeted.
The UK’s terror threat rating remains at “severe”, the second highest rating, meaning a terrorist attack is highly likely.