Wednesday, January 31, 2007

UK - 'Kidnap terror plot' thwarted

Nine men have been arrested in connect with an alleged terror plot. Twenty-four hour rolling news was saturated with coverage of the arrests. CNN interrupted the repeat showing of Larry King Live in order to bring viewers the latest developments.
At 4 a.m UK time, dozens of police officers raided 12 locations in and around the Birmingham area. They arrested 8 people, but few details about the operation for several hours. Even a police press conference 12 hours after the operation was initiated revealed little. Only one fresh detail emerged, that of a further arrest on a Birmingham motorway.
Home Secretary John Reid said it was an ongoing “major operation” and urged the media to “exercise a great deal of responsibility and restraint” in their reporting of the story. The police and authorities were particularly concerned of certain details that were emerging. By lunchtime Sky news were reporting that the arrests were connected to a possible kidnap plot. The chosen victim, it later emerged, was to be a serving soldier. ITN’s 6:30 pm news bulletin revealed that the soldier was a 22 year old Muslim soldier who had served in Afghanistan. He was said to be under police protection, but the MoD would neither confirm nor deny the reports. Most media organisations were speculating the possibility that the plot was to re-enact a Ken Bigley style kidnap and execution. All would be played out in video broadcasts using the internet.
The arrests have heightened tensions in the area with many Muslims expressing their anger. Pervez Iqbal, a cousin of one suspect, insisted the arrested man would soon be released because “he has not done anything”.
Police have refused to comment on the media reports of a ‘kidnap plot’, only that the group had a "terrifying plan which was close to fruition". They also have not confirmed the ethnicity or religion of the suspects, but Sky news, as well as other broadcasters, has reported some had connection to Pakistan. Sky also named one of the suspects as 29 year old Amjad Mahmood, a local shopkeeper. [CNN / BBC / Sky News]

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