The most recent – and perhaps most bone-chilling – plot came to light just last week in the “Balti triangle” of Birmingham (a heavily Pakistani area about 120 miles north of London), when nine Muslim men, of combined British and Pakistani origin, were arrested in what the British Home Office called a “nationwide operation” and “a reminder of the real and serious nature of the terrorist threat we [all still] face.”The plot contrived by these would-be terrorists was to abduct an individual British soldier – a Muslim male in his early 20s, who had served in Afghanistan – off the streets of Birmingham (the site of multiple military hospitals where many wounded British troops are currently receiving inpatient and outpatient care) in broad daylight. The captive was to be filmed being tortured and begging both for his life and for Prime Minister Tony Blair to order a complete withdrawal of British forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. Regardless of Blair’s response, though, the soldier was eventually to be beheaded by his captors – again, on film.
The arrests marked the end of six months of surveillance by MI5, and were carried out at this time because, according to a source in the British security service, the suspects “were ready to go.” Their first target, whose name was (correctly) not released, is now in protective custody, and police are currently in the midst of what West Midlands assistant chief constable David Shaw called a “very, very major investigation” that would take “days, if not weeks” to complete.
The kidnapping – and public torture and execution – of one soldier would have had a catastrophic effect on the people of Britain, both military (who now have cause to fear for their life, both on and off duty, even though the plot was unsuccessful) and civilian. Further intelligence recovered from the arrest sites, though, revealed a list of no fewer that thirty targets for abduction – all male soldiers in their 20s, all Muslim.
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