Clitheroe Advertiser : Wild 'terror plot' rumours are entirely unfounded

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Wild 'terror plot' rumours are entirely unfounded

By Duncan Smith | April 9, 2009

WILD rumours running rife in Clitheroe that the town could be the target of an Al-Qaeda terror plot are entirely unfounded.

Yesterday's dramatic arrest of two men at the town's new Homebase store has fired a string of wild rumours.

The most prevalent is of a plot to blow up the store – which had its grand opening this morning – at some point over the busy Easter weekend. Other rumours, even more bizarre, link the arrests with ongoing efforts to establish a mosque in Clitheroe – simply because that story generated international media coverage.

However, it is much more likely that the two men were arrested in Clitheroe simply because that was where they were working at the time when police officers got "the green light", and that there is no other connection with the quiet market town.

The men's identities have not yet been revealed, but it is known that they were working for a national security guard company, Manpower Direct (UK) Ltd, based in Ilford, Essex. They were not directly employed by Homebase.

It is routine for major retailers to "hire in" extra uniformed security guards from outside contractors in the immediate run-up to a store opening and in the days following, when it is likely to be extremely busy.

The two men were working temporarily as security guards at the new Homebase store and staying at a guest house in the town, presumably paid for by their employer.

Police have stressed that they were not local to Clitheroe, or even from Lancashire.

However, if they were under surveillance as part of a counter-terrorism operation, the police would have been aware of their location at all times and ready to arrest them when the call came – whether they were in Clitheroe, Carlisle or Clacton-on-Sea.

With police investigations still very much active, it is extremely unlikely that more information will emerge about the intelligence which led to the arrest 12 men at locations across the North West. To release that information could prejudice those investigations and any criminal proceedings which might follow.

However, it is very likely that when more information does emerge, any real link with Clitheroe will be extremely tenuous.