Daily Mail : 'Terror gang' may have been 'plotting to blow up shopping centre and nightclub'

Thursday, April 09, 2009

'Terror gang' may have been 'plotting to blow up shopping centre and nightclub'

By James Tozer | April 9, 2009

Dramatic daylight terror raids on a university may have been linked to a plot to blow up a shopping centre or nightclub, police fear.

Students at Liverpool John Moores University watched in shock yesterday as two men were hauled outside and forced to the ground by armed police.

Witnesses said the duo - students at the university's Business School - were wearing combat trousers and hiking jackets, and claimed there were rumours of 'a bomb' on the premises.

Last night it was claimed that officers used a Taser stun gun to subdue at least one of the suspects.

The raid was brought forward after Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick was photographed walking into Downing Street yesterday with top-secret files on the anti-terror operation under his arm.

The catastrophic security breach sparked immediate emergency action and led to Quick's resignation this morning.

The raid was one of a series carried out simultaneously across the North-West in which 12 suspects believed to be plotting a major terrorist bomb attack in Britain were seized. Most of the men are Pakistani nationals living in Britain on student visas.

Police believe possible targets were the Trafford Centre shopping centre in Manchester and a nightclub frequented by footballers.

The other areas targeted included Cheetham Hill in north Manchester, where officers raided two houses looking for explosive material and seeking four men. An internet cafe was also searched.

In addition, a Homebase DIY store in Clitheroe, Lancashire, was raided by 100 officers, with shoppers looking on as two security guards were led away.

A property thought to be a guest house was also searched in Clitheroe.

Just before 5pm police detained a man in a flat above a shop in the Wavertree area of Liverpool.

And at 8pm police swooped on a white van travelling on the M602 on the outskirts of Manchester.

Carrying out such raids in daylight and in public places is highly unusual and proved deeply shocking to the students who witnessed the Liverpool operation.

Officers surrounded the Aldham Robarts library at John Moores University at about 5.30pm, telling students to stay where they were over the public address system.

One student, Nicholas Higgins, who was working on his dissertation, said: 'The tannoy said, "Students, please keep away from the windows, log off and move away from the windows", so at first we thought it was to do with drugs.

'But they came on again and told us what was going on - there were terrorists outside, and to keep away from the windows because they may have got a bomb on them.

'I saw two men lying on the floor, hands behind their back, surrounded by police, police all around with their guns round them.

'They looked like students, they had combats on, outdoor jackets like a Berghaus-type on. I was stunned, I was terrified.'

Journalism student Marcel Deer, 22, said: 'We were told to keep away from the windows because there was a police situation.

'I snatched a look out of the window and two foreign-looking guys were on the ground and there were police holding them at gunpoint with their hands tied up behind their backs.

'It was all pretty scary. It's frightening when there are armed police with machine guns everywhere and we did think our lives could be in danger.

'There were rumours that it was some kind of suspected chemical attack but we were never told anything officially. The whole thing went on for about 50 minutes before we were then told it was safe.'

The two suspects are thought to have been taken from the library building at about 5.30pm.

Both were aged in their twenties. One was bearded, the other clean-shaven.

The university confirmed that both arrested men were students there. Term has finished, but a number of students were using the library to revise.

A spokesman said: 'Police got in touch and asked if they could use the area, and we co-operated fully. It was obviously very frightening for students who were there.'

A woman who lives next door to a terraced house where two men were arrested in Cheetham Hill said she saw a man being hauled down the street by officers.

Bushra Majid, 33, a housewife, said: 'I opened the door and four or five policemen were on top of a man. They were dragging him along the street and he had no shoes on.

'They shouted at me, "Get inside. Get inside".

'There was a policeman on each corner of the street. They were dressed in black and had machine guns.

Police at the scene of an address in Wavertree, Liverpool after a series of terror raids in the in the North West

'I heard lots of noise inside the house, like people running up and down the stairs.
The mother-of-four said the house next door was rented and there were always people coming and going.

'There were about six or seven men living there for the last six months.

'Some were aged 45 to 50, others were aged in their 20s. They used to go to the local Al Falah mosque daily.'

Billy Mortimer who lives further down the road also saw the raid.

He said: 'They took two men wearing white robes out of the house and ran them up the street, one police on each side, and ran them into the entry where there were even more police.

'All the street was blocked off by police cars and officers.

'It was very fast and very professional.

'After they took them away more police entered wearing gloves and masks and began searching the house.'

Two men were arrested at an internet cafe and shop on the road. The cafe is in the basement of a row of shops on a main road and has a sign outside advertising itself as Cyber Net Cafe and computer repair shop.

Mesu Raza, an unemployed man from Pakistan who lives in a flat above the cafe, said:

'I saw police arrest two people and put them in a police van.

'They had handcuffs on, they were Asian men, and the police were armed.

'Two police vans arrived outside the shop and there was more police went round the back. There were many officers and a large number of police vans.'

Officers were later seen going into an address on Greenhill Road, across the street from the internet cafe.

Police swooped on a terraced house and arrested three men. The road was cordoned off last night.

A resident said the raid took place at about 5pm.

He said: 'I looked and about midway down the road there were a load of police officers dressed in black and they were bringing some men out of a house.

'The men were then put into a van and driven away.'

Witnesses said one man was detained in a flat above a shop just before 5pm.

Moments later the suspect was lying face-down in the street, his head covered.

Rebecca Mallon, 31, who lives nearby, said: 'I was walking up the road and two black cars, an Audi and a BMW, tore down the street and pulled up outside the shop.

'Then a lot of men wearing black, not police uniforms, it looked like combat gear, burst out of the cars and stormed the door to a flat next to one of the shops.'

She continued: 'The man inside must have been right behind the door because almost straight away he was out in the street and the police had him lying face down on the ground.

'They covered his head in a blanket and kept him there for about 20 minutes.

'They were shouting to him 'keep down, keep your head down'.

'Then they took him away in a police van.'

Officers from the North West Counter-Terrorism Unit supported by Merseyside Police, Greater Manchester Police and Lancashire Constabulary conducted the raids.

Senior detectives said they moved quickly following an 'imminent and credible' threat of an atrocity by an Al Qaedalinked group, including the construction of an explosive device, said to be a conventional bomb rather than a 'dirty' bomb incorporating nuclear material.

One officer said: 'These are the most significant terrorism arrests to be made for some time.

'There was information which led us to believe that these men were planning something major.

'It was not clear when or where they would strike but they were collecting material for a large explosion. We are talking about something big.'

UPI : Counter-terrorism chief resigns over error

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Counter-terrorism chief resigns over error

April 9, 2009

LONDON, April 9 (UPI) -- The counter-terrorism chief at Britain's Scotland Yard resigned Thursday after admitting he nearly blew a security operation against a suspected al-Qaida cell.

Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick said he "deeply regretted" jeopardizing raids planned for early Thursday but that had to be pushed ahead to Wednesday afternoon, The Times of London reported.

Wednesday's raids resulted in 12 arrests at eight locations in Manchester and Merseyside.

Information about the operation was visible through a transparent folder Quick was carrying Wednesday when he went to brief British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The information was captured on film by a photojournalist across the street and later published, The Times said.

"I have today offered my resignation in the knowledge that my action could have compromised a major counter-terrorism operation," Quick said in a statement. "I deeply regret the disruption caused to colleagues undertaking the operation and remain grateful for the way in which they adapted quickly and professionally to a revised timescale."

Quick will be replaced by Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who led an investigation into former Prime Minister Tony Blair, The Times said.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said Quick told her he thought his position was "untenable" after the photos were published. She thanked him "for all the outstanding work he has done in this role which has helped keep this country safe."

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

ABC : Scotland Yard Official Resigns After Compromising Al Qaeda Terror Investigation

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Scotland Yard Official Resigns After Compromising Al Qaeda Terror Investigation

Raids Stepped-Up After Bob Quick Revealed Confidential Documents; 12 Arrested


A top British counter-terrorism official has resigned after he was photographed yesterday carrying a top secret document regarding an ongoing investigation into suspected al Qaeda "driven attack planning within the UK" in plain view. The embarrassing blunder caused an uproar in England, and authorities rushed to arrest 12 men under the Terrorism Act in the now compromised terrorism investigation.
Photo: Twelve men have been arrested in the North West of England after Britain's most senior counter terrorism police officer sparked a security alert.

In a statement, the assistant commissioner at the center of the scandal, Bob Quick, acknowledged that he may have compromised the operation, adding, "I deeply regret the disruption caused to colleagues undertaking the operation and remain grateful for the way in which they adapted quickly and professionally to a revised timescale."

Sources tell ABC News the planned large-scale attack was imminent, with definite ties to al Qaeda.

The Daily Mail reported that Quick was resigning with a pension of over $110,000 British pounds (over $160,000).

The BBC and other British news outlets had published photographs of Quick as he was heading to a meeting at 10 Downing Street, in which he can be seen carrying a document labeled "Secret" and which contained details about an upcoming terrorist operation.

British Raids Result in 12 Arrests

Several hundred officers were involved in raids resulting in the arrests of the 12 men, who ranged in age from a teenager to a 41-year-old man, according to the Greater Manchester Police, who were also conducting searches at eight locations. Eleven of the men arrested were Pakistani-born nationals in Britain on student visas, while the other was from the UK.

"Although the operation is ongoing, this phase is still in its very early stages, so the information we can release about it is limited," said Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Porter, head of the North West CTU.

According to the British newspaper "The Telegraph" the exposed "briefing note" contained details of the locations and manner of the intended arrests, names of senior officers in charge of the operation and the "media strategy" once the suspects were rounded up.

Scotland Yard Official Regrets Mistake

British defense press officials sent an urgent note to all major British media alerting them " a media agency may be offering a photograph which contains highly sensitive information about a current counter-terrorist operation" and urging them not to publish details of the operation without seeking "advice", but the damage was done.

A Scotland Yard spokesman later told reporters the top counter terrorism official had apologized to his colleagues.

"Assistant Commissioner Quick accepts he made a mistake on leaving a sensitive document in open view and deeply regrets it."


this comment from a reader is priceless:

I cannot believe how little attention ABC, CBS<,NBC are paying to this story. Britain is frantically trying to find a bomb factory that possibly could be used to make a massive bomb on Easter Sunday. I guess this is really quite easy to understand why these liberal democratic, Odumbo loving networks dont cover this; they really dont or wont beleive it.This is the exact situation we have all been arguing about. Do they use torture now on the people they have caught to get then to expose where the bomb making is going on, Well Dems do they?? If we had rounded these people and were faced with this what would we do?? If there was a possibility that u and your family could get blown up on Sunday what would u want them to do??? Bush/Cheney were right. ABC get off your liberal butt and cover the TEERORISM!

Asian Image : 'There was nothing suspicious about them'

Thursday, April 09, 2009

'There was nothing suspicious about them'

April 9, 2009

The owner of a flat at the centre of an alleged terror plot described his tenants as “very nice people, gentle and polite”.

Businessman Ali Shalash, whose flat on Earle Road, Liverpool, was stormed by armed police yesterday spoke of his surprise.

At least one of the residents was arrested at the scene, witnesses said, as police across the North West raided properties thought to be linked in a plot.

Mr Shalash, who owns M&Q Building Services, said he believed the students he let the flat to were from Pakistan.

Speaking from his office in nearby Smithdown Road, he said: “The tenants are students and they came to me, they are very nice guys.

”They’ve been there for about three weeks.

”They paid the deposit in cash and took a six-month lease.

”They spoke good English and just said they were students. I didn’t ask where, I think they said they were doing accounting.

”They signed a normal tenancy agreement and went through the normal procedure.

”I took all their details, including their passport details.

”I think they were from Pakistan. I deal with one of them but I think there might be three or four of them in there.

”I have been in the flat many times in the last few weeks to do things like fix the washing machine.

”It’s been a normal service, just like any other tenants.

”There was nothing about them that was suspicious in any way.

”They are very nice people, gentle and polite.

”Let’s see what happens. Maybe it’s a mistake.”

Two homes on Cedar Grove in Toxteth, Liverpool, were raided by police yesterday.

Neighbours said officers dressed in black and wearing balaclavas stormed into No 51 at around 5.30pm.

After around 30 minutes, four men with their hands cuffed behind their backs were taken outside and put into police cars before being driven off.

At around 10pm another team of officers raided No 46, across the street, and two men were brought out of that house.

Today there was still significant police presence at Cedar Grove and both houses remained sealed off.

Teams of forensic officers were seen going in and out of both properties.

A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: “I heard bang, bang, bang from the back of the house at around teatime last night.

”When I looked outside the window, about 10 armed police were going into the front of the house.

”The police were dressed in all black and were wearing balaclavas and forensic gloves.

”After a long time, maybe half an hour, the four men were brought out and put in cars.

”They were handcuffed and had their heads down.

”The whole street was sealed off then but things were quiet until about 10pm when No 46 was raided.

”Two men were brought out of that house.”

The neighbour said the four men had been living at No 51 for over a year and she would often see them working on their car, a blue or grey Nissan Micra which was taken away by police after the raid.

The men at No 46 moved in to that house around last Christmas, neighbours said.

Another neighbour said: “Some of the men would say hello to you when you saw them in the street and some of them would just never acknowledge you.

”They all knew each other but they never seemed to speak to any other residents.”

One of the suspects detained yesterday was in a flat above a barber’s shop in Greenhill Road, Cheetham Hill, Manchester. He was taken away at about 10.45pm.

Fazal Hussain, who works at the adjoining Khan International Travel Agents, said police officers took him away more than two hours after the property was initially raided.

Mr Hussain said: “I was watching the football when I got a phone call at about 8.15pm to say the door to the flats had been broken down by the police. I went round to switch off the alarm.”

The address in Greenhill Road is across the street from the Cyber Net Cafe, which was also raided yesterday.

Police said last night that the address was searched but did not confirm an arrest was made.

Officers were still standing guard today outside the other raid locations at Galsworthy Avenue, Abercarn Close, Esmond Road and the Cyber Net Cafe in Cheetham Hill Road.

AP : UK's top anti-terror officer resigns after blunder

Thursday, April 09, 2009

UK's top anti-terror officer resigns after blunder

By NANCY ZUCKERBROD | April 9, 2009

LONDON (AP) — Britain's top counter-terrorist police officer resigned Thursday after he was photographed carrying clearly visible secret documents about an operation against an alleged al-Qaida plot by Pakistani nationals to launch an attack in Britain.

Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick's blunder forced police to scramble to round up the suspects sooner than planned. Twelve men were arrested late Wednesday in raids across northwest England.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the raids had disrupted "a very big terrorist plot."

"We have been following it for some time," Brown told reporters.

Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Peter Fahy said police had not identified a threat to any particular target. But he said the raids had been triggered because police thought public safety was at risk.

"We perceived a threat was there and we had to take action," he said.

"What happened essentially meant we have brought the matter forward but it would have happened in the next 24 hours in any event," he said.

Police said 11 of the men arrested were Pakistanis, most on student visas, and the twelfth was British. The suspects ranged in age from the teens to a 41-year-old man.

Several past terrorist plots in Britain had links to Pakistan, including the July 7, 2005 London transit attacks by four suicide bombers that killed 52 commuters.

"We know that there are links between terrorists in Britain and terrorists in Pakistan," said Brown. He said he would be asking Pakistani Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari to take tougher action.

The British government currently assesses the country's terror threat level as "severe," the second-highest of five possible ratings. It means the government considers an attack likely.

Quick, the Metropolitan Police anti-terror chief, was photographed Wednesday clutching confidential documents as he arrived for a meeting with Brown at 10 Downing St. The document on top showed details of an anti-terror operation code-named Operation Pathway.

When officials became aware that clearly readable photographs of the document — which listed names of senior officers and plans for a series of raids — were in circulation, they changed their timetable for action.

News organizations were warned by a joint government-media body Wednesday that "publication or broadcast of any details of this photograph would seriously damage national security."

Hundreds of officers swooped on eight addresses across northwest England Wednesday evening — a contrast to the dawn raids usually favored by police.

Greater Manchester Police said the suspects were detained under anti-terrorism laws in the cities of Manchester and Liverpool and the surrounding area, about 200 miles (300 kilometers) northwest of London.

The raids targeted homes, an Internet cafe, Liverpool's John Moores University and a car driving along a highway.

Once the raids were over, Quick swiftly stepped down.

"I have today offered my resignation in the knowledge that my action could have compromised a major counterterrorism operation," he said in a statement Thursday.

It's not the first time officials calling on the prime minister have been caught out by photographers standing in Downing Street with powerful telephoto lenses.

In May, two government ministers were snapped carrying sensitive materials that could be seen. Caroline Flint, who was then minister for housing, was holding a document forecasting a 10 percent drop in British house prices — a bigger fall than the government was then predicting.

Hazel Blears, the communities minister, was photographed with an e-mail on the possible participation of the prime minister in a TV reality program to be called "Junior PM."

"I'm not the first person to have been caught out in this way and probably won't be the last," Flint said.

Quick's blunder was the first to raise a security issue and force a resignation.

Law enforcement officials said they were not aware of any instances in which a readable image of Quick's document was published before Wednesday's raids.

After the raids took place, television news reports showed images of Quick holding them. Newspapers also carried the photos, with The Daily Telegraph and the Evening Standard showing close-up images that were clearly readable.

Quick's replacement in the top terror job, Assistant Commissioner John Yates, has been involved in several prominent cases, including an investigation into whether knighthoods and other honors were being given in exchange for Labour Party donations.

At the end of the investigation in 2007, which included police questioning of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, prosecutors did not charge anyone.

Associated Press Writers Robert Barr and Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Guardian : Police chief Bob Quick steps down over terror blunder

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Police chief Bob Quick steps down over terror blunder

Britain's most senior counterterrorism officer resigns over security leak that resulted in anti-terror operation being brought forward

Vikram Dodd and David Batty | April 9, 2009

Bob Quick, Britain's most senior counterterrorism officer, was forced to stand down today after an embarrassing security leak resulted in a major anti-terror operation, designed to foil an alleged al-Qaida plot to bomb Britain, being rushed forward.

The London mayor and chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority, Boris Johnson, announced the resignation this morning, saying it had been accepted with "great reluctance and sadness".

Assistant Commissioner John Yates, the high-profile Met officer who headed the 19-month "cash for peerages" inquiry, will replace Quick as the head of counterterrorism, Johnson said.

Police were forced to carry out raids on addresses in the north-west of England in broad daylight yesterday, earlier than planned, after Quick, the Metropolitan police's assistant commissioner, was photographed carrying sensitive documents as he arrived for a meeting in Downing Street.

A white document marked "secret", which carried details of the operation being planned by MI5 and several police forces, was clearly visible to press photographers equipped with telephoto lenses.

Prime minister Gordon Brown today said the police services, who arrested 12 men, had been investigating a "major terrorist plot". Speaking in Carlisle, he said: "Our first concern is always the safety of the public. It is right that we took the urgent action that we did over the course of yesterday. I have spoken to Bob Quick this morning and thanked him for his years of service. He has apologised for what went wrong yesterday.

Pressure had been growing on Quick after the embarrassing lapse, and it is understood his resignation followed a meeting with the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, and the Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, last night.

The home secretary is said to be angry with Johnson for pre-empting official channels and making the announcement on BBC's Radio 4 Today programme this morning. There was also surprise and concern that the mayor had named Quick's replacement before Scotland Yard had given the all clear for the information to be released - which could have security implications.

Yesterday, realising the existence of the ­photographs of the ­document – which included the names of several senior officers, sensitive locations and details about the nature of the overseas threat – the government imposed a "D notice" to restrict the media from revealing the contents of the picture.

The security lapse followed a series of earlier controversies which had already left Quick's future in doubt.

Last December, he had to apologise for an outburst in which he accused senior Conservatives of leaking a story.

He faced damaging headlines after it emerged that his wife was running a luxury car hire firm from their home and details of their address were published on a website, and was also criticised for his role in sanctioning the arrest of the shadow immigration minister, Damian Green, during a Whitehall leak inquiry.

In a statement today, Quick said he had decided to resign last night.

He would not have needed to be told of the acute difficulty his lapse had caused.

There was also real anger at Quick's actions in Whitehall security circles, and it is possible that he could face disciplinary action for his lapse.

Today, Quick said: "Last evening, I contacted the Metropolitan Police Authority to inform them of my intention to offer my resignation.

"I have today offered my resignation in the knowledge that my action could have compromised a major counterterrorism operation.

"I deeply regret the disruption caused to colleagues undertaking the operation, and remain grateful for the way in which they adapted quickly and professionally to a revised timescale."

London mayor praises Quick

Although a statement from Johnson praised Quick, relations between the Conservatives and the officer have become strained because of the Green saga.

At the time, Quick amazed many in Whitehall by alleging that the Tories were leaking against him.

Johnson's statement said Quick had "made a huge contribution to British policing, particularly in the last year, developing the national counterterrorism capability".

The resignation was the second major headache to be faced by Stephenson in barely 24 hours, following the Guardian's revelation of the police attack on Ian Tomlinson, who died at the G20 protest.

"Bob Quick is a tremendous police officer who has served with dedication and professionalism throughout his career," Stephenson said.

"I hold Bob in the highest regard, as a friend and colleague, and that opinion has not changed. He has accepted that he made a serious error and that has led to his resignation."

Quick's role was national, and he regularly met top government ministers and officials.

The home secretary offered her "sincere appreciation of all the outstanding work he has done in this role, which has helped keep this country safe".

The Conservative home affairs spokesman, Chris Grayling, called Quick's resignation "the right decision".

"It is unacceptable for Britain's most senior anti-terrorist officer to have had such an extraordinary lapse in judgement," he said.

"To put the security of his police officers and the operation at risk has rendered his position untenable."

Anti-terror operations continue in north-west

Searches were today continuing at addresses in the north-west after hundreds of officers carried out raids on 10 properties and arrested 12 men, including 10 Pakistani nationals on student visas and one Briton.

The men, detained at John Moores University in Liverpool, an internet cafe and a house in the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester, as well as at addresses in Lancashire, were suspected of involvement in a plot to attack the UK.

The arrests were led by Greater Manchester police, which coordinates anti-terror operations in the region.

"Ten men have been arrested as part of a counterterrorism operation across the north-west of England," a force statement said.

"Officers from the north-west counterterrorism unit, supported by Merseyside police, Greater Manchester police and Lancashire constabulary, carried out a series of raids."

Guardian : Scotland Yard's top troubleshooter faces his biggest challenge

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Scotland Yard's top troubleshooter faces his biggest challenge

John Yates will need all his experience to overcome the conflicts within the various strands of the security services

Sandra Laville and Richard Norton Taylor | April 9, 2009

Assistant commissioner John Yates has a habit of stepping in to save Scotland Yard when it is in crisis.

He was there after the Jean Charles de Menezes inquest, at the side of Sir Paul Stephenson when he admitted his force had failed for years in rape investigations, and a voice of experience and reason in the aftermath of the Damian Green arrest.

This time, however, Yates has taken on a task that could be fraught with difficulties. The counterterrorism command in Scotland Yard has always seen itself as apart and above the rest, a force within a force that never liked being asked to be accountable.

Yates, one of the Metropolitan police's most talented and intelligent senior officers, will need to utilise every skill he has to survive and thrive in his new role.

Few doubt that he will take on the brief expertly. In the past he has dealt with some of the trickiest investigations an officer could have faced; the Paul Burrell inquiry, and the investigation into cash for honours, where Yates stood up to New Labour, showing a broad back and a determination not to be influenced or pressured.

A source at a meeting involving Whitehall officials and the policing sector said his inter-agency politics was near perfect. He is savvy, clever and political.

He will need to be, too, when dealing with the many agencies involved in the counterterrorism brief. Despite the apparently harmonious merger of MI5, Special Branch and the Met's anti-terrorist teams, there are still deep historic differences and tensions in the way these groups operate.

For Bob Quick, his clumsy and careless breach of security in carrying open documents into Downing Street in full view of photographers was perhaps the biggest crime in the book for MI5. The leaking, briefing or exposing of top security information is seen as the ultimate offence for those in the security agencies – and when it is the top man doing it, there was nothing that was going to save him.

Those within the agencies would have made sure his position was untenable, closely followed by the withdrawal of support from all political parties and senior figures in Scotland Yard.

With Quick gone, Yates can rise above these tensions. Whereas the police – often under pressure from politicians – are inclined to want to move in and arrest speedily, counter-intelligence officers naturally want to hold back for as long as possible and gather more and more intelligence. These conflicting cultures have to be brought together to operate seamlessly at a time when the security threat, Whitehall sources still insist, is severe.

Guardian : Police feared 'Al-Qaida terror attack' on UK was planned for Easter

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Police feared 'Al-Qaida terror attack' on UK was planned for Easter

• Sources say attack would have taken place by end of Easter weekend
• Gordon Brown describes suspected plot as 'very big'
• Police guard addresses raided by counterterrorism officers

Vikram Dodd and Martin Wainwright | April 9, 2009

Counterterrorism officials believe an alleged al-Qaida terror plot against the UK, designed to cause mass casualties, was due to be carried out within days, the Guardian has learned.

A total of 12 people were arrested across northern England on Wednesday as police carried out a string of raids to thwart an alleged terrorist cell with overseas links.

Peter Fahy, the chief constable of Greater Manchester police, today confirmed that 11 of those arrested were Pakistani nationals.

A secret briefing note accidentally shown to the media yesterday outside Downing Street by the UK's former top counter-terrorist officer Bob Quick, said 10 of those targeted in the operation were on student visas.

Sources with knowledge of the investigation - in which arrests were rushed forward after Quick's mistake, which today cost him his job - say the execution of an "al-Qaida driven" plot was "imminent".

UK officials say they believe the attack would have been attempted by Easter Monday at the latest.

According to counterterrorism sources, it is unclear where and what the terrorists were targeting.

Officials regularly point out that intelligence is not always conclusive, but today said they believed that the terror plot was highly ambitious and a big attack was being planned.

The source said reports of a northern nightclub or shopping centre being the target were wholly untrue.

As searches continued at addresses across northern England, the prime minister, Gordon Brown, described the suspected plot as "very big" and said investigators were examining links with Pakistan.

"We know there are links between terrorists in Britain and Pakistan, and that is an important issue for us to follow through," he said.

The 12 men were arrested at seven locations across north-west England, and at least another eight addresses in the region were searched.

Scores of students witnessed one arrest, carried out at Liverpool John Moores University. Police said one man was detained near the campus.

"When I looked, I saw a man on the floor," student Daniel Taylor said. "Police were shouting at him and one of the officers had what looked like a machine gun pointed right into his head."

Three men were arrested at Cedar Grove, Liverpool.

"I looked and, about midway down the road, there were a load of police officers dressed in black and they were bringing some men out of a house," a resident said.

Another man was arrested at a flat in Earle Road, also in Liverpool. Police stood guard outside the flat and forensics officers could be seen through net curtains.

Abdul Kassan, 20, who lives next door to the raided flat, was at work in his neighbouring off-licence yesterday when police cars screeched to a halt and officers ran into the building.

"We were working in the shop and the police cars suddenly arrived and police got out with guns," he said.

"We didn't know what was going on - they just told us to shut the shop. It was about 3.30pm. The officers came into the back of the shop.

"The blokes in the flat are new, they've only just moved in, they've all got long beards.

"They bought stuff from us and seemed normal. I think they are Pakistani.

They looked like students and only seemed to speak a little bit of English."

Police also searched a bed and breakfast in Pimlico Road, Clitheroe, today.

More than 100 officers, with a helicopter in support, surrounded the Lancashire town's new Homebase store yesterday and arrested two men working for a private security firm.

The pair were staying at the B&B but had not been there for long and were unknown to neighbours.

The house itself was sealed off and put under police guard as forensic specialists went in and out.

The pair's employer has a security contract with Homebase and they were not directly employed by the DIY chain, which only completed the Clitheroe outlet this week.

A planned opening by the town's mayor in time for the Easter weekend went ahead today and the store was full of shoppers.

The mayor, John Hill, changed his speech to focus on terrorism and community relations in the historic market town.

He said: "I would like to stress that the men arrested are not from Clitheroe.

"We work extremely well together as a community here and [in] the Ribble Valley, and people should carry on regardless of what has happened.

"There is no tension here and we would like it to remain like this."

Hill said terrorism "can happen anywhere" and urged people to "remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police".
Operation was moved forward after security blunder

Fahy admitted that the operation had been rushed forward as a result of the security blunder by Quick, which exposed plans for the operation to the cameras of press photographers.

However, Fahy added: "The operation would have been carried out in the subsequent 24 hours.

"It got to a point in evaluating what we knew that we had to take action yesterday."

Fahy said reports of Old Trafford or the Trafford shopping centre being the targets were "purely speculation" on the part of the media.

He added that, from what was known at the moment, there was no particular threat to specific locations and "certainly not the ones mentioned in the media".

However, he added that the threat level in the north-west remained high.

Manchester Evening News : Plea for calm after raids

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Plea for calm after raids

Yakub Qureshi | April 9, 2009

GREATER Manchester's top terror cop has called for calm following raids throughout the region.

Det Chief Supt Tony Porter, the most senior anti-terrorism officer in the north west, said officers would be working to reassure residents in the areas hit last night.

"This action is part of a continuing investigation and we have acted on intelligence received," he said.

"We understand that this kind of police activity can cause concern to people living in nearby communities, and we have ensured they will be able to discuss issues or concerns linked to today's operation with local officers who are providing a high-profile presence.

"We are also distributing letters around the areas concerned and will be meeting with community groups to address any concerns they may have."


The latest spate of terror arrests will come as little surprise to those who follow security developments. Although no such large-scale raids have been carried out in recent months, the Home Office has classed the terrorism threat level as "severe", meaning that a terrorist attack is "highly likely".

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith congratulated Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire police forces.

"They are to be commended for the professional manner in which they conducted this operation," she said.

"The decision to take such action was an operational matter for the police and the security service but the Prime Minister and I were kept fully appraised of developments.

"We face a severe terrorist threat in this country and we are all very well served by our police and security services, all of whom do an excellent job to keep us safe.

"While this investigation is ongoing it would, of course, be inappropriate to comment further."

Telegraph : Bob Quick's resignation hides a bigger story

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Bob Quick's resignation hides a bigger story

Analysis By Philip Johnston | April 9, 2009

Bob Quick's resignation as head of Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command is a personal disaster for the senior officer.

But his inadvertent disclosure of a major operation told a bigger story that will be deeply worrying for intelligence chiefs across Whitehall.

The involvement in the alleged plot of 10 Pakistani nationals visiting Britain on student visas is a development that may need an urgent reappraisal of counter-terror tactics.

To a great extent this is testament to the success of MI5 and the Met in containing the threat from home grown jihadis.

More than 90 per cent of the terrorists jailed over the past few years have been British citizens with connections to Pakistan. Many have visited Pakistani training camps.

This means that there is a target for the intelligence services: they can keep tabs on particular groups, mosques, bookshops and other places where radicals are known to gather.

Gradually and painstakingly, they can build up a picture of the threat and its extent, working out who is connected to whom and, with luck and judgment, where the greatest and most immediate dangers lie.

MI5's multi-million pound "Information Exploitation Programme" helps investigators search across systems, map networks and analyse events based on time and geography.

It is being developed further to provide what MI5 calls a "trip-wire" which will be triggered when it comes across significant patterns of activity.

MI5 is currently watching two dozen possible plots and has a few thousand potential suspects on its radar, some of whom may be serious conspirators while others are facilitators, supporters, hangers-on or just innocent acquaintances.

This is a hugely labour-intensive task, which has meant doubling staffing levels at Thames House and its regional outstations to more than 4,000, with many new recruits from ethnic minority backgrounds..

But any intelligence operation is only as good as the information available. The terrorists will always try to stay one step ahead if they know their networks have been infiltrated.

The IRA did so when they drafted in so-called 'clean skins' to carry out bomb attacks in the 1980s and 1990s – people unknown to the police or MI5 and whose movements would not attract attention.

Al-Qaeda has already learned some lessons from the way their past plots have been thwarted. Trials have forced the disclosure of techniques and information MI5 would rather have been kept under wraps.

Suspects never speak to each other in or near buildings any more, speak in generalities on the phones and recruits use circuitous routes, such as via Dubai, to get to Pakistan or Afghanistan to join the jihad.

What the document being carried by Bob Quick seemed to show was that Al Qaeda recognises that its British-based activities have been largely compromised through a series of arrests, trials and surveillance operations.

Instead, it may be bringing in operatives directly from Pakistan hidden among the many thousands of foreign students that come here every year. In one way, arriving as a Pakstani student might be risky in itself in alerting MI5 but there are too many for everyone to be kept under surveillance and most will be bona fide.

For those bent on terrorist activity, their Achilles heel is that they still need to contact British-based jihadis in order to get equipment, cars, money and the like. And if those contacts are being watched the whole plot can be unravelled, which may well have happened here. Even though the arrests had to be brought forward because of Mr Quick's blunder, Operation Pathway – which was MI5 led – was in its final stages, as evinced by the fact the Prime Minister was being briefed. This means the counter-terrorist agencies had a lot of information already though whether it will result in charges is another matter.

The presence of so many foreign nationals in the plot is unusual; most that have gone before have been almost entirely, though not exclusively, British based.

That is the main reason why MI5 has set up half a dozen regional offices for the first time, to deal with a predominantly internal threat.

If is now transforming into an external threat, some new thinking will be necessary – and a great deal more help from Pakistani intelligence will be required.

The Government will also need to ensure that its visa controls are as tight as possible.

Sky News : Security Leak Cost Terror Raid Cops 24 Hours

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Security Leak Cost Terror Raid Cops 24 Hours

April 9, 2009

The leaking of the plans for a series of raids across the North West forced officers to swoop 24 hours ahead of schedule, Greater Manchester Police have said.

Officers arrested 12 men in parallel raids at 10 addresses across Manchester, Liverpool and Clitheroe, Lancashire.

Operation Pathway was rushed into action early on Wednesday evening following Bob Quick's accidental breach of security.

Greater Manchester Police said concerns for public safety prompted the decision to bring the raids forward.

Chief Constable Peter Fahy said continuing as planned was "not an option" with the threat level at a "heightened status".

"This sort of work means we can't take risks," Mr Fahy said.

"The safety and security of local people is the most important factor in our operations."

While the raids are still on-going, Mr Fahy said there were no plans to raise the threat level and urged the public to continue their lives as normal.

"Nobody should feel any more at threat here in the North West or anywhere else in the country as a result of this operation," he said.

He also ruled out speculation surrounding potential terror targets in Manchester, which had been rumoured to include the city's Old Trafford football ground and Trafford Shopping Centre.

Mr Fahy said: "I would have no hesitation in using those locations."

The chief constable also said the dozen people arrested across the region would be interviewed "in due course".

He confirmed police were now evaluating the operation and the materials collected from at least 10 addresses - a process "expected to take a long time".

And he praised officers for their part in a "very professional operation up until now".

Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, Bernard Hogan-Howe, echoed his sentiment.

He said: "I would like to personally thank all the police officers and staff in Merseyside for their amazing responsiveness to yesterday's operation.

"Many officers went above and beyond their duties to make sure our city remains a safe place to live.

"In light of the decision to bring the operation forward, the flexibility and commitment shown by those involved is also to be commended - I am very proud of what they achieved."

Yesterday, witnesses at the city's Liverpool John Moores University said two Asian men in their mid to late-20s were held by armed police outside the main library on Maryland Street.

They described how the suspects were stopped while passing the main entrance and ordered to lie on the ground.

Students were held inside the library for up to 30 minutes as the two men were searched by officers before being taken away.

Craig Ahmed, 24, a business student from Maghull, Merseyside, said he saw around eight officers outside.

"One of them was armed and was pointing his gun at two men who were ordered to lie face down on the ground.

He said the detained pair "looked like students ... one was wearing tracksuit bottoms and a hooded top and the other had a Puffa-style jacket on".

Over in Manchester, witnesses in Cheetham Hill said they had seen two men had been arrested.

Bushra Majid, 33, a housewife, described seeing one man being hauled down the street by officers.

"I opened the door and four or five policemen were on top of a man," she said. "They were dragging him along the street and he had no shoes on.

"They shouted at me, 'Get inside. Get inside'. There was a policeman on each corner of the street. They were dressed in black and had machine guns.

In Clitheroe, Lancashire, up to 100 officers in around 50 vehicles swooped on the Homebase store and arrested two security guards as stunned work colleagues looked on.

Police simultaneously raided the nearby Brooklyn Guest House in Pimlico Road where the two men were staying.

Adam Howard, who lives opposite, said he was shocked at the arrests.

He said: "I saw about 15 officers go in the front and the back of the house. It was a bit of a shock. You don't expect this to happen in a market town."

Police said the dual searches in Clitheroe have now been completed.

Telegraph : Al-Qaeda terror plot to bomb Easter shoppers

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Al-Qaeda terror plot to bomb Easter shoppers

By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent | April 9, 2009

An al-Qaeda cell was days away from carrying out an "Easter spectacular" of co-ordinated suicide bomb attacks on shopping centres in Manchester, police believe.

Sources told The Daily Telegraph that the arrests of 12 men in the north west of England on Wednesday were linked to a suspected plan to launch a devastating attack this weekend.

Some of the suspects were watched by MI5 agents as they filmed themselves outside the Trafford Centre on the edge of Manchester, the Arndale Centre in the city centre, and the nearby St Ann's Square.

Police were forced to round up the alleged plotters after they were overheard discussing dates, understood to include the Easter bank holiday, one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

"It could have been the next few days and they were talking about 10 days at the outside," one source said. "We had to act." Police are now engaged in a search for an alleged bomb factory, where explosives might have been assembled.

If such a plot was carried out, it would almost certainly have been Britain's worst terrorist attack, with the potential to cause more deaths than the suicide attacks of July 7, 2005, when 52 people were murdered.

A plan to arrest the suspects in a series of co-ordinated raids yesterday morning had to be hastily brought forward to Wednesday afternoon after the country's most senior anti-terrorism officer, Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, of the Metropolitan Police, was photographed going into Downing Street carrying a briefing paper with top secret details of Operation Pathway in full view.

Yesterday morning, Mr Quick resigned after he was told by the Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, that he had lost her confidence and that of MI5.

As a result of his blunder, hundreds of police officers had to be scrambled to arrest the suspects, who were being monitored round the clock.

Former police chiefs pointed out that rounding up suspected suicide bombers in public places in Liverpool, Manchester and Clitheroe, Lancs, had put other people at risk and could also have compromised the operation.

Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, described the alleged plot as "very big" and said investigators were looking at links with Pakistan.

Mr Brown said: "We know that there are links between terrorists in Britain and terrorists in Pakistan. That is an important issue for us to follow through and that's why I will be talking to President Zardari about what Pakistan can do to help us in the future."

All but one of the men arrested were Pakistani nationals who came to Britain on student visas. This suggested a possible new tactic by al-Qaeda, which had previously used British-based extremists who travelled to Pakistan for training.

The issue of student visas represents a potential security nightmare for the police and MI5. There are 330,000 foreign students in Britain and around 10,000 such visas are issued every year to Pakistanis alone.

Phil Woolas, the Immigration Minister, has described the student visa system as "the major loophole in Britain's border controls".

Several of the suspects who were being questioned last night, were from the al-Qaeda heartlands in Pakistan's border area with Afghanistan.

Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester, said police had been forced to act to protect the public. Asked about al-Qaeda involvement, he added: "We know what is the nature of the threat to this country and where it comes from."

But he sought to reassure shoppers, and added: "I would like to say I would have no hesitation, or any of my family, in using any of those locations that have been mentioned."

The security services suspect that several of the men arrested were trained at religious schools in Pakistan and sent to launch suicide attacks on the West.

They were suspected to have Continued on Page 5 Continued from Page 1 chosen Easter as the most significant Christian holiday for an attack.

Police believe the suspects may have smuggled bomb-making equipment into the country and were ready to launch their attacks.

Yesterday, searches focused on a property in Highgate Street, Liverpool, although nothing "significant" had yet been found.

Sources said police had arrested the man they suspected was the ring-leader, Abid Naseer, 22, at an address in Galsworthy Avenue in Cheetham Hill, Manchester.

He is said to be from the tribal areas of Pakistan where the Taliban and al-Qaeda have established their base.

The alleged members of the cell had signed up for a range of student courses, while two were employed as security guards at a new Homebase store in Clitheroe, Lancs.

Among the locations raided on Wednesday afternoon was the Cyber Net Café in Cheetham Hill, where it is thought the men communicated using emails.

Security sources suspect they received their instructions from al-Qaeda commanders in Pakistan.

The leader of the Pakistan Taliban is Baitullah Mehsud, who last week claimed responsibility for an attack on a police compound in Lahore and promised to attack the West. At least one of the arrested men is from Mehsud's heartland of South Waziristan, sources in Pakistan said.

Manchester Evening News : Terror chief quits over memo leak

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Terror chief quits over memo leak

April 9, 2009

BRITAIN'S top counter-terrorism officer resigned today after his security blunder forced armed police to swoop on five addresses in Manchester.

And security officers moved quickly to quash media reports that the intended terror target was the Trafford Centre and Birdcage nightclub in the city centre.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said he had accepted Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick's resignation with "great reluctance and sadness".

Mr Quick's downfall came after he was pictured yesterday clutching sensitive documents as he arrived in Downing Street for a meeting with the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary.

The document was marked 'secret' with sensitive details including the names of senior officers, locations and details about the threat clearly visible.

Four people were arrested in Manchester and eight people were arrested after raids in Liverpool and Clitheroe.

Sources said the raids - carried out on four homes and an internet cafe in Cheetham Hill - had been planned for 'this week' if the blunder not taken place. It is thought they could have been carried out at 2am today.

Officers arrested two people at a house on Galsworthy Avenue and two at the Cyber Net Cafe on Cheetham Hill Road.

Another man was arrested on the M602 motorway after his car was tracked by anti-terror police. Raids were also carried out on Greenhill Road, Abercarn Close and Esmond Road.

Potential targets

Detectives are now sifting through computers and documents seized at all five addresses which may need to be translated into English.

It was reported that the terror target could have been the Trafford Centre and the Birdcage nightclub near the Printworks but the MEN understands that security sources have dismissed suggestions these were potential targets.

A senior security source said: "We do not believe these were targets at this stage."

"This is an unfolding investigation. We are now beginning searches of all the properties and it is too early to speculate on any targets."

Gordon McKinnon, Trafford Centre director of operations, said: "We have been informed, contrary to some media reports, that there has been no specific threat to the Trafford Centre - any such suggestion is purely speculative.

"Our 100-plus security team is however constantly aware of the need to remain vigilant, and works in tandem with more than 400 CCTV cameras to provide a safe, secure environment for our customers.

"We have a very close relationship with Greater Manchester Police and are in regular close contact with them regarding security issues."

Two of the men arrested in Manchester are believed to be in their 30s and of Afghan origin. A third man is believed to be in his mid 30s and of Pakistani/Finland origin.

Assistant Commissioner John Yates will replace Mr Quick as head of counter-terrorism, Mr Johnson said.

Al Qaida

He added: “I have this morning with great reluctance and sadness as chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority accepted Bob Quick’s resignation as head of counter terrorism and John Yates is going to be appointed and I think he will do a first class job.”

Fearing the suspects would be tipped off about the planned operation after Mr Quick’s blunder, police swooped at about 5.30pm yesterday on addresses in Cheetham Hill in Manchester, Liverpool - including John Moores University - and Clitheroe, in Lancashire.

A Homebase store in Clitheroe was also raided by more than 100 officers and two staff members are believed to have been arrested.

As police targeted the suspects - who sources said were allegedly linked to al Qaida - Mr Quick released an apology to Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson saying he “deeply regretted” leaving the document on show.

But the pressure for his resignation mounted and today he paid the price.

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said the blunder was “an extraordinary and very alarming lapse. “It’s the kind of error that Britain’s most senior anti-terrorist officer simply can’t afford to make.”

Last December Mr Quick apologised for an outburst in which he accused senior Conservatives of leaking a story about his wife’s business interests.


That followed controversy over his role in the decision to arrest Tory frontbencher Damian Green during an inquiry into leaks.

Mr Johnson confirmed Mr Quick had not been sacked. He added: “As I understand matters, obviously there were consultations overnight and I think in the end Bob Quick decided it was the best thing to do.

“It is a matter of sadness and he has had a very, very distinguished career in counter-terrorism.

"I want to stress there was absolutely no kind of witch hunt or effort to get him out but I think that what people felt was this was extremely unfortunate, an operation that was very, very sensitive and important to counter-terrorism, for rounding up terrorists had been potentially compromised and there was a real difficulty there.”

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said Mr Quick felt his position was “untenable” following the publication of the photographs and thanked him for his work.

She said: “Sir Paul Stephenson has informed me that Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick has offered his resignation following the publication of certain photographs yesterday. Although the operation was successful he felt that his position was untenable.

“I want to offer my sincere appreciation for all the outstanding work he has done in this role which has helped keep this country safe.”

It is understood the Home Secretary met Mr Quick and Sir Paul last night to discuss the matter.


Reacting to Mr Quick’s resignation, Mr Grayling said: “I think it was the right thing to do. I think politicians should always be wary about marching in and saying somebody must go.

“But I said last night I thought there were serious questions to ask about his ability to do the job, as much as anything about the confidence the rest of the security apparatus would have in him.

“My own view privately was I didn’t see how he could possibly stay. I think Mr Quick had made his position completely untenable, not just in the eyes of the public but also within the organisation.

“At the end of the day the buck has to stop somewhere. This is a serious breach that could have jeopardised and may have impacted on a very serious investigation into a possible terror threat.”

Guardian : Anti-terror swoops follow months of surveillance

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Anti-terror swoops follow months of surveillance

• Speculation that night clubs were among targets
• Twelve arrests follow raids on 15 north-west locations

Owen Bowcott and Richard Norton-Taylor | April 9, 2009

The scale and speed of the anti-terror operation mounted by hundreds of officers across north-west England last night points to extensive prior surveillance of a suspected plot aimed at domestic targets.

The home secretary's decision to congratulate police even as the raids were going on reinforced the theory that senior Whitehall officials were confident a major security threat had been countered.

Describing it as a "successful anti-terrorism operation", Jacqui Smith said: "The decision to take such action was an operational matter for the police and the Security Service but the prime minister and I were kept fully appraised of developments. We face a severe terrorist threat in this country."

Intelligence sources said the information gathered indicated "a potentially serious plot against UK targets", adding: "The focus of this is in the UK." It is believed officers did not know the specific targets.

Other sources speculated that attacks may have been planned on nightclubs in Manchester's city centre or the nearby Trafford shopping centre complex. It is understood the police raids were scheduled for 2am today but were moved forward to 5pm yesterday.

The 12 men were arrested at seven separate locations across the north-west and at least another eight addresses were searched. Scores of students witnessed one arrest at Liverpool John Moores University.

Police said one man was arrested near the campus. Student Daniel Taylor said: "When I looked I saw a man on the floor. Police were shouting at him and one of the officers had what looked like a machine gun pointed right into his head."

At Cedar Grove, Liverpool, three men were arrested. A resident said: "I looked and about midway down the road there were a load of police officers dressed in black and they were bringing some men out of a house."

Another man was arrested at Earle Road, Liverpool.

An eyewitness, Rebecca Mallon, said: "A lot of men wearing black, not police uniforms, it looked like combat gear, burst out of the cars and stormed the door to a flat next to one of the shops."

In Galsworthy Avenue, Cheetham Hill, Manchester, two men were arrested. A neighbour, Bushra Majid, said: "I opened the door and four or five policemen were on top of a man. They were dragging him along the street and he had no shoes on."

In Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester, two men were arrested at premises thought to be an internet cafe and shop. Local resident Mesu Raza said: "I saw police arrest two people and put them in a police van. They had handcuffs on, they were Asian men, and the police were armed."

Two men were arrested at a premises in Clitheroe, Lancashire. Police did not reveal the address, but local sources said that up to 100 officers swooped on a Homebase store and arrested two security guards as work colleagues looked on.

Mark Barlowe, who saw the Homebase raid, said: "Looking at the police vehicles, they weren't from round here. The majority were from out of town. They swooped in, a lot of them in riot gear."

A further arrest took place on the M602.

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation which works with young Muslims, said: "I would urge caution ... There have been many anti-terror raids in the past where people have been proven innocent."

Guardian : Mistaken al-Qaida suspect tells of his shock at anti-terror arrest

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Mistaken al-Qaida suspect tells of his shock at anti-terror arrest

Pakistani student Muhammad Adil describes ordeal after arrest at gunpoint at Liverpool John Moores University

Anthea Lipsett | April 9, 2009

Muhammad Adil, a 27-year-old Pakistani student who was briefly arrested yesterday as part of the anti-terror raids in the north of England, told the Guardian of his shock at being held as a suspected terrorist.

Adil, from Peshawar, is in his final year of an MBA at Liverpool John Moores University and spent most of the yesterday in the library working on the dissertation he has to submit by 30 April.

He agreed to meet a friend, a 25-year-old Pakistani studying accountancy at a British college, because he owed him £100. They were sitting on benches outside the building eating peanuts and talking when the anti-terror officers arrived.

"Special forces with telescopes on their machine guns came and said 'hands up'," he said. "I thought maybe they are students playing with me. My friend was sitting on the bench. They grabbed my wrists and pushed my friend and he fell down on the other side of the [flowerbed] wall."

Adil said he told the officers he was a student and was told to "shut up". The police made him lay down, and tied his hands behind his back. "I kept saying 'I'm normal'. I couldn't see my friend but the officers were on him. They said 'don't move'.

"They asked me if I knew why I was being arrested – as a suspect of terrorism, I was laughing at that. I'm a student."

Adil said he was kept lying face down on the floor with his hands tied behind his back for an hour with the officers pointing guns at him.

"I asked them to tell me what's wrong. I was using a polite voice. I ask him how long, do you have any proof that I'm a terrorist? I said I don't know what you're talking about, I'm a student. I was laughing in shock at that point and the officer told me it's not the time to laugh."

Adil has been studying in the UK for two years. He works part-time as a security guard for a Manchester-based firm, which is where he met the friend who was arrested with him yesterday. They became friendly after working a shift together in December.

After about an hour of being held on the floor, the police took the two men to a police station in separate cars.

"They picked me up from the floor but kept me handcuffed and searched me all over then took me to the local police station, and questioned me about my name, age, where I lived, how long I'd lived there, the colour of my eyes, my friends."

Adil said three other men whom he did not know were also being held at the station.

Several hours later, Adil said the officers' attitude towards him changed. Adil believes this is because they had confirmed he was a legitimate student.

"When they confirmed everything they were talking me to like we were friends and asked if I wanted water or the toilet. He said 'Are you okay' and I said my hands are tied if that's okay. I talk too much. It's my habit."

Adil has yet to complete his dissertation, but says he hopes to return to his home country as soon as possible. "This has totally changed what I have learned about this country and my time here," he said. "They are clearly identifying Muslim students. It's a big insult … The first thing I will do is leave this country as soon as possible. The police officer said your country [Pakistan] is not secure but I still prefer to live there. I love my country."

He believes his friend is one of the 12 men still being held by police over the suspected al-Qaida terror plot.

Daily Star : Footie Terror Plot

Thursday, April 09, 2009


By Bill Martin | April 9, 2009

Fears were growing over a bomb threat to last night’s Euro cup clash as police foiled a “major” terrorist attack.

Armed officers swooped on 10 men, including several British Muslims, at addresses across the north-west.

The raids were brought forward after a serious security blunder.

Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism police officer Bob Quick, head of Scotland Yard’s specialist operations wing, was pictured with sensitive documents going to Downing Street.

Details of a major on-going anti-terror operation could be read.

Anti-terror police later raided properties in Manchester, Merseyside and at Clitheroe, Lancs.

One unconfirmed report said an 11th man was also held in Pakistan.

Senior detectives said they were responding to a “imminent and credible” threat of an atrocity by an al Qaida-linked group.

The arrests came as 45,000 football fans converged on Anfield for Liverpool’s Champions League quarter-final clash with Chelsea. There is no immediate suggestion the stadium was the target but one of the raids was just three miles away.

Police were last night investigating claims that any planned attack might be football related.

They will probe whether Manchester United’s stadium at Old Trafford might also have been in the terrorists’ sights.

A police source said: “These are the most significant terrorism arrests for some time. We are talking about something big.”

Officers raided two properties in the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester, four miles from Old Trafford.

Two men were arrested and led away in handcuffs, locals said.

In Liverpool city centre, John Moores University’s glass-fronted Aldham Robarts library was raided.

Eyewitnesses said two students in their early 20s, thought to be of Pakistani origin, were Tasered then pinned to the floor.

The young men, one bearded and one clean-shaven, were taken away for questioning. Student Sian Hill said: “Suddenly all these men rushed towards us yelling: ‘Look at the floor! Look at the floor!’

“I didn’t know what was going on. One of the police opened the door and pushed me inside.

“The two men they arrested were really quite calm. They did what they were told and laid on the floor.”

Another student said a “distressed voice” came over the Tannoy asking students to stay away from the windows for their own safety.

Mr Quick was snapped on his way to brief Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

But under his arm was a “Top Secret” dossier on full public display giving details of a major on-going anti-terror operation.

Photographers were able to snap the file and details of forthcoming raids could clearly be read.

The information, which cannot be reported, included the names of several senior officers, locations and details about the nature of the overseas threat. Last night Mr Quick apologised to Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson following his blunder.

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.

Press Association : Move to calm 'terror targets' fear

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Move to calm 'terror targets' fear

April 9, 2009

People living in Manchester and the North West have been urged not to let speculation over potential terror plot targets affect their Easter plans.

Greater Manchester Chief Constable Peter Fahy said the public should not fear visiting any of the reported targets of a suspected al Qaida plot over the weekend.

Whitehall sources said the 12 men arrested across the North West on Wednesday had been under surveillance by MI5 and police for weeks but the nature or potential target of the plot remained unclear.

One source said: "There was information of sufficient concern that action needed to be taken. Work is ongoing to get to the bottom of it."

The official described reports that the alleged plotters may have been sizing up "soft targets" such as shopping centres, nightclubs and football grounds, like Old Trafford, as "speculation".

Mr Fahy said he and his family would have "no hesitation" in using shopping locations such as Manchester's Trafford Centre and Arndale Centre this weekend.

Security staff at the Trafford Centre said they had not been informed of any threat. A spokesman for the Arndale Centre said there was "no evidence" of any specific targeting of the complex.

Mr Fahy also said police had not uncovered a threat to a particular location, although the investigation was still ongoing.

"Clearly, there has been some speculation about certain locations. There is no particular threat against any particular location and certainly not the ones mentioned in the media."

Eleven Pakistani nationals - of which at least 10 held student visas - and one UK-born British national remain in custody.

Copyright © 2009 The Press Association. All rights reserved.

Lancashire Telegraph : Clitheroe Homebase opens on time despite terror swoop

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Clitheroe Homebase opens on time despite terror swoop

By Tyrone Marshall | April 9, 2009

THE Ribble Valley mayor cut the ribbon to open Clitheroe’s new Homebase store — just 18 hours after anti-terror police had swooped.

And the arrest of two security guards inside the Queensway store last night brought a bigger than expected crowd to the event.

Two film crews, four photographers and eight national media journalists, alongside a crowd of people, watched as Coun John Hill did the honours.

Shoppers then flooded into the 25,000 sq ft store which has created 40 jobs.

Coun Hill praised staff at the store for opening as planned.

He said: “Opening shows that the people of the Ribble Valley are not being put off by these events.

“There have been a lot of shoppers.

“We have a wonderful community spirit and I don’t think these events will cause any problems between different groups.”

Store manager Sue Webster added: “Yesterday’s events were difficult, but colleagues ensured we had everything ready for the opening and we are very proud of their spirit.

“We would also like to thank residents for their tremendous support.”

Meanwhile Manpower Direct, a security firm based in Ilford, Essex which employed the men, has launched an investigation.

An employee who answered a call to the firm but who would not give his name, said: "I'm not prepared to comment.

"We have got an investigation underway. We are working with the police and security industry.

"A statement will be released later."

The firm specialises in providing uniformed guards 24 hrs a day nationwide according to its website.

NYT : Britain’s Antiterror Officer Resigns

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Britain’s Antiterror Officer Resigns

By SARAH LYALL | April 9, 2009

LONDON — Britain’s most powerful counter-terrorism police officer resigned on Thursday, a day after being photographed holding a document marked “SECRET” that outlined details of a major anti-terrorism operation. The resignation is the latest embarrassment for the Metropolitan Police Service, which is also being investigated for its handling of, and possible responsibility for, the death of a passer-by during protests at last week’s G20 meetings.

Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick of the Metropolitan Police Department was photographed arriving at No 10 Downing Street on Wednesday carrying a document that outlined details of a major antiterrorism operation.

Both cases hinged on photographs and video footage taken by reporters and members of the public and disseminated by the news media and on the Internet.

The resignation of the counter-terrorism officer, Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, came after he was seen carrying a document titled, “Briefing Note: Operation PATHWAY,” while on his way to a Downing Street security briefing. Referring to the Qaeda terror network, the document sketched out a plan to arrest 11 people at seven addresses in northwest England as part of a “a security service led investigation into suspected AQ driven attack planning within the UK.”

Because of the disclosure, captured by photographers with telephoto lenses, anti-terrorism officers had to carry out the operation many hours earlier than planned, the police said. Hundreds of officers took part in raids around Manchester, Liverpool and Lancashire on Wednesday afternoon. They detained 12 people on suspicion of being part of what Prime Minister Gordon Brown called “a very big terrorist plot” that the security services had been “following for some time.”

The British news media reported that the group had been planning attacks this weekend on targets like a shopping center in downtown Manchester. But Peter Fahy, the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, told reporters that “there is no particular threat against any particular location.”

Ten of the people in custody are Pakistani nationals, and one is British-born, Mr. Fahy said. None has been formally charged. Mr. Quick said in a statement: “I deeply regret the disruption caused to colleagues undertaking the operation.”

Meanwhile, pressure mounted on the Metropolitan Police Service to explain itself over the death of Ian Tomlinson, a 47-year-old newspaper vendor who suffered a fatal heart attack on April 1, during protests at the G20 meetings. The police originally said that they had had no contact with Mr. Tomlinson, who had been trying to get home and was not a protester, until they gave him emergency medical treatment and put him in an ambulance after he fell ill.

But a number of witnesses have since come forward to the news media to contradict what the police said, backing up their claims with photographs and video footage of the incident, in London’s financial district. One piece of footage, whose existence was first reported in The Guardian newspaper, showed Mr. Tomlinson apparently being hit in the back from behind with a baton wielded by a police officer in riot gear.

That footage was taken by a 38-year-old investment manager from New York, who said he had attended the protests out of curiosity.

A freelance photographer, Anna Branthwaite, told the newspaper that she had witnessed Mr. Tomlinson being attacked with no provocation. She said that after rushing him and pushing him to the ground, a police officer “hit him twice with a baton” as he lay there and then “picked him up from the back, continued to walk or charge with him, and threw him.” He staggered down the street and then collapsed soon afterwards.

After a barrage of complaints and the emergence of the new evidence, the police department said late on Thursday that it had suspended the officer in question, whose face was obscured by a balaclava in the video and whose name has not been released. Officials are also holding an inquest into Mr. Tomlinson’s death.

The Independent Police Complaint Commission, which originally said it would oversee a police investigation of the incident, changed its mind earlier this week, saying it would conduct the investigation itself. It also said that, armed with the new evidence, it had widened its inquiry to “investigate the alleged assault by police on Ian Tomlinson shortly before his death” and to “look into whether that contact may have contributed to his death.”

The incident undermines confidence in accountability at the police department, whose image has never fully recovered from the death, in 2005, of Jean Charles de Menezes. Mr. de Menezes, a Brazilian electrician, was fatally shot by the police on the subway during a period of high tension after a series of suicide bombs on London’s transportation system killed 52 commuters. The police originally claimed that Mr. de Menezes had refused to stop when challenged, behaved strangely and led them on a chase through the subway system — all of which later proved false.

The police explained that they had confused Mr. de Menezes with a potential terrorist suspect who lived in the same apartment building as him.

Much of the photographic and video evidence gathered by the public in the Tomlinson case has been disseminated on the Web, as has the sensitive document inadvertently revealed by Mr. Quick, the now-former anti-terrorism official.

Mr. Quick’s mistake caused consternation at the highest levels of government. Informed on Wednesday that The Evening Standard planned to publish a clear photograph of the document that night, the Ministry of Defense quickly issued a so-called D- notice, which restricts publication of sensitive documents relating to national security. But it was too late: the information had already gone out over the Internet. On Thursday, The Standard published its photograph, albeit with several key details — apparently the names of anti-terrorism officers involved in the operation — blacked out. Other newspapers posted the photograph on their Web sites. [link to photo at the Guardian]

Boris Johnson, mayor of London and chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said that the disclosure of the memo had been “extremely unfortunate.”

He added: “an operation that was very, very sensitive and important to counterterrorism, for rounding up terrorists, had been potentially compromised and there was a real difficulty there.” He said that John Yates, another assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan Police Department, would replace Mr. Quick as its head of counter-terrorism.

Click Liverpool : Operation Pathway - Liverpool terror alert - forensic searches

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Operation Pathway - Liverpool terror alert - forensic searches

by John Harkin | April 9, 2009 | updated April 10, 2009

Police forensic teams have been carrying-out inch-by-inch searches of homes in Liverpool connected with the terroror arrests in 'Operation Pathway.'

A pair of men were arrested in Liverpool as part of the anti-terrorism operation rapidly mounted by police across the North West after a security gaffe by top cop Bob Quick.

Neighbours said that four men were arrested by police who stormed a red-brick three-bedroomed Victorian terraced house at 51 Cedar Grove, Toxteth.

Unemployed Antonia Croft, 18. who lives in Cedar Grove, said: "I was sitting in the front room watching telly and I heard the crack of breaking glass.

"I ran to the front door to see what was happening and the street was swarming with police armed with machine guns.

"They were shouting to the residents to 'Get inside and stay away from the windows'.

"It was terrifying. I saw the police march four men in handcuffs out of the house with blankets over their heads."

Residents said that police also entered a house at 46 Cedar Grove where the police also smashed their way in through the front bay window.

Neighbour Leonard Mottram, 39, said: "Both ends of the road were sealed-off with vans and everything was deadly silent for a few seconds.

"Then they smashed the windows of two houses at the same time and stormed-in.

"It was like something out of an action movie. I honestly thought they were filming.

"I looked out of the front window and was expecting to see Arnold Scwarzenegger or Russell Crowe come bursting out of one of the police vans."

Mr Mottram said the residents at the two homes were of Asian or arab origin and in their early twenties.

He added: "We have never spoken to them although they have never casued any trouble and would give you a smile if you saw them outside the house.

"The last few weeks they have spent quite a lot of time outside in the street working on their car.

"It's a black Vaxhall hatchback and they spent a lot of time with the bonnet up but they never asked for any help."

At the Liverpool John Moores University around the same time two men were being pinned down and held at gunpoint by armed officers outside the Aldham Robarts Library in Maryland Street.

Witnesses described how police chased one man and immobilised at least one with a Taser gun, before pinning him to the ground.

Students who were in the building told of how they were instructed to move away from the windows and interior glass walls while the operation continued.

Armed officers held the men at gunpoint while around 200 people were kept inside the modern building and an exclusion zone was set up by police.

Andy Garner, 21, who is studying journalism at the university said: "I'd just popped out of the building to get a coffee.

"As I was returning I saw about twenty police with what looked like machine guns swarming around the entrance.

"We were told to stay back and held a good fifty yeards away down the street and no-one was allowed in or out of nearly an hour.

"During that time more uniformed officers arrived and got the whole area condoned-off.

"We had no idea what was going on - there were all kinds of rumours that someone had planted a bomb."

The Liverpool arrests came as a number of properties were raided in the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester and at a guest house in Clitheroe, Lancashire.

The North West Counter-Terrorism Unit, working with Merseyside Police, GMP and Lancashire Constabulary, said 12 men has been arrested under the Terrorism Act.

Several hundred officers were involved the operation, including armed officers who were deployed during some of the arrests.

Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Porter, head of the North West CTU said: "Today's action is part of a continuing investigation and we have acted on intelligence received.

"Although the operation is ongoing, this phase is still in its very early stages, so the information we can release about it is limited."

Police were also searching a flat above an off-licence in Earle Road, Wavertree, about a mile from the other address in Cedar Grove.

A pair of Merseyside Police vehicles - one a 'Mobile Police Station' and the second a 'Matrix Team' van. The Matrix Team is the force's specialist firearms and serious crimes squad.

The teams were searching the rundown flat above the 'Saleh Off-Licence' at 175a Earle Road, a busy local area shopping street packed with take-aways.

The off licence is next door to St Hugh's RC Primary School where the 150 pupils are off on Easter Holidays.

Locals said the flat was occupied two men Asian men who had moved in last year and had paid six months rent in advance.

Pharmacist Phil Jones, who works in a nearby chemist's shop said: "It was just a normal afternoon when suddenly a SWAT team came bursting-in through the door.

"It was terrifying and the customers were screaming. There were two of us as staff and three customers.

"They told everyone to calm down to stay inside the shop.

"They sealed-off the street outside and there were police everywhere wearing body armour and all of them with Heckler and Koch automatic rifles.

"The customers were frightened and asked if they could leave through the back door but we all stayed where we were. We were trapped for forty minutes not knowing what was really going on."

Liverpool Echo : Liverpool Terror Alerts: Police foil major bomb plot

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Liverpool Terror Alerts: Police foil major bomb plot

by Ben Rossington, Liverpool Echo | April 9, 2009

POLICE believe they have thwarted a major plan to detonate a bomb on British soil after a string of anti-terror arrests.

As details of the dramatic swoop at Liverpool John Moores University emerged today the ECHO has learned the arrests are both “significant and important”.

The swoop saw 12 men – aged from their mid-to-late teens to their early 40s – picked up in a coordinated operation yesterday afternoon.

Five men were arrested in Liverpool - one on the John Moores campus, three in a house in Toxteth and one at a house in Edge Hill.

They were being quizzed today alongside others picked up by the North West Counter-Terrorism Unit in Manchester and Lancashire.

Senior detectives today told the ECHO Operation Pathway had foiled a major terrorist plot.

One officer said: “These are the most significant arrests for some time.

“There was information which led us to believe that these men were planning something major.

“It is not clear when or where they would strike. But they were collecting material for a large explosion.”

Whitehall security experts said that there was no indication of threats to specific targets in and around Liverpool such as the Mersey tunnels.

They pointed out the 7/7 London suicide bombers travelled from Bradford to carry out their murderous attacks.

The intelligence supplied came from both MI5 and police anti-terror officers.

Secret service agents are thought to have been watching and monitoring those arrested for some time.

But the operation was brought forward after the country’s top terror cop Bob Quick who quit today after leaving top secret documents on show in front of photographers as he walked into Downing Street yesterday.

Another senior police source told the ECHO: “These are being seen as significant and important arrests.

“Obviously they were brought forward a bit but they would have happened sooner rather than later anyway.”

Staff at JMU were given 10 minutes warning that armed police would be coming on to campus.

They warned everyone in the public buildings to stay away from windows and glass, sparking fears of a bomb.

Police stormed The Aldham Roberts Library, in Maryland Street, at around 5pm.

Onlookers screamed in horror as officers chased a man close to the entrance of the building.

Up to 200 students were in the building, off Hardman Street, when the drama unfolded.

The suspect is believed to have been taken out with a Taser and kept face down on the floor for 30 minutes by an officer with a machine gun pointed at his head.

Forensic teams arrived at the scene and searched the library to see if any suspicious packages of objects had been discarded or hidden.

Angela Bradley, 23, a tourism and leisure management student, was walking towards the library with friends when an unmarked police car screamed to a halt in front of her.

She said: “Four fellas with guns jumped out of a black car and left all the doors open and ran in.

“They started shouting stay the f*** down.

“Everyone got moved out and we weren’t allowed to go near them.”

A JMU spokeswoman confirmed the man arrested was a current student.

Other swoops took place in Cedar Grove, Toxteth, and Earle Road, Edge Hill.

Officers are now searching the suspects' homes along with a third address in Highgate Street, also Edge Hill.

Today shops and a flat remained cordoned off on Earle Road.

Police burst into a flat above Saleh off licence and close to St Hugh's Catholic Primary School, which is closed for the Easter break.

Locals told how they were armed with shields and smashed down the door to the flat before racing upstairs to apprehend a suspect.

A man sitting in a silver-coloured car outside was also apprehended during the same raid.

Neighbours said that new people had moved into the flat just a few days earlier.

They said that nothing was known of their identity, although they appeared to be in their 20's.

They said a group of Polish men previously lived at the address.