Thursday, April 09, 2009

Terror chief blunder forces early raids

Bob Quick, Britain’s head of counter terrorism, has resigned after a blunder which forced security services to bring forward an operation. Quick had been photographed entering Downing Street on Wednesday, but he had inadvertently held an important document in full view of the press. Although news organisations were contacted shortly afterwards the potential leak resulted in an anti-terrorism operation being launched earlier than expected [Sky News / BBC / CNN].

Twelve people were arrested in several areas in the north west of England late Wednesday afternoon. At least one person was arrested at Liverpool’s John Moores University in full sight of students studying in the library. Armed officers moved in swiftly to detain their suspect. There are conflicting reports as to how many people arrested at that location with students saying two men were taken away. Police say only one man had been arrested.

Across Liverpool several addresses were raided and a number of suspects were taken away by police. Five addresses in the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester, including an internet cafe were also raided in the operation. North of Manchester two men are understood to have been arrested at a Homebase DIY store in Clitheroe, where dozens of police officers carried out a raid.
The operation is said to have been connected to an imminent threat to the UK according to reports, the veracity, of which cannot be established. However the document carried by now former counter terrorism chief Bob Quick reveals some important details of Operation Pathway. Part of the document reads: “This is a Security services led investigation into suspected AQ driven attack planning within the UK”. The AQ is believed to refer to al-Qaeda. The document also mentions that there were 11 suspects at 7 addresses under investigation. Three addresses are identified as being in the Greater Manchester area while three others were in the Merseyside, or Liverpool, area. The other address was identified as being in Lancashire. All but one of the suspects are stated as being Pakistani nationals living within the UK on student visas. One is a British born national. The nationality of the twelfth person arrested in the subsequent raids remains unknown [Sky News / BBC].

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