Terror Raids Net 14 in Britain: Restaurant, Homes, School Involved

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Sep 02, 2006 8:26 AM

In actions unrelated to the recent airplane terror plot, British police reportedly raided a Chinese restaurant Friday to arrest and question 12 customers:

Mehdi Belyani, 40, the owner and manager of the restaurant in Borough Road, said a group of around 15 men and two small boys had come in for dinner last night..

He said they were aged between 25 and 35, some were wearing Islamic dress and they were talking quietly and acting normally while they ate.

Mr Belyani, who is of Iranian origin, said more than 50 police officers later burst in...

"The police stayed for more than two hours talking to the group one by one," he said.

They must have some serious evidence on these guys to raid a restaurant with more than 50 officers (Update: 50 officers in riot gear), it would seem. Two more suspects were arrested in their homes during simultaneous raids of south, east, and north London addresses. All are being held for the "alleged recruitment, training and encouraging of people to take part in terrorist acts."

Today, authorities are checking an Islamic school in Sussex, but no arrests have been made:

Scotland Yard said police are scouring Jameah Islameah, an independent school for boys aged 11 to 16 in Mark Cross, east Sussex, but no arrests have been made. 

Eleven to 16? Ahh, no doubt a result of our enemy's concern for early education.

Things are heating up at the school:

Eyewitnesses say the area has now been sealed off and about 100 officers are at the scene.

And, a little more on Jameah Islameah:

According to its website the 54-acre premises also encourages Islamic groups to "appoint a person from your centre who wishes to serve the community and send them to us to be trained".

It also says these individuals will then become "qualified enough to teach in local Masajeds and Madares".

At the time of its last inspection the school only had nine pupils.

Hmm, like this kind of leader?

The BBC says the arrests were the result of months of surveillance, and the arrests are linked to possible "terrorist camps:"

"This involves people suspected of facilitating training activity within the UK which might have allowed others to take part in terrorist activity," he said.

"Here in the UK it's more forms of bonding and getting groups together as well as radicalising those taking part. It's not necessarily military or terrorist training or blowing things up, it's more training in the sense of groups bonding and working together".

Some of the 7 July bombers were suspected of having undertaken this kind of training activity within the UK, although there is no link to those arrested overnight.

The story is a pretty low priority at the BBC, left off the homepage entirely, and listed under a Palestine story, two Mexico stories, and a Somalia story on the news page.

Sky News has video, here, but I'm on a friend's computer and can't seem to make it play. BBC has "exclusive footage of one of the raids," on the right column, here, but I can't see that one either. Let me know if they're any good.

Allah was on it last night, and I'm sure will have the video goodies I can't provide when he gets up. He adds:

50-60 cops in riot gear descending on a restaurant on a Friday night to question the customers sounds awfully strange. They’ve been taking heat for busted raids and heavy-handed tactics for the better part of a year, all the way back to the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes last July.

They must have had an awfully good reason to risk another big screw-up in a place as public as this. Maybe time was of the essence. We’ll see.

Update: Capt. Ed on the school:

The school only had nine students at its last inspection, which seems very noteworthy considering the size of the facility. The school advertises to Islamic centers as a central instruction point for leaders of Muslim communities. Given the size of the facility, either Jameah Islameah has fallen on hard times -- which seems unlikely given the current state of affairs -- or it served as something more than an instructional facility.