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Nine muslims detained in new uk terror plot { December 2007 }

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Ninth arrest in Muslim soldier 'kidnap terror plot'

A ninth person has been arrested today in connection with a plot to bring Iraqi kidnap and murder tactics to Britain.

The suspect was detained by anti-terror police on the motorway in the Birmingham area.

It follows dawn raids across the city by Midlands Police and the Metropolitan Police.

A British Muslim soldier is thought to have been singled out as the target of a terror cell in Birmingham.

Security sources say the gang was going to video him pleading with Tony Blair to pull troops out of Iraq before beheading him. The serviceman, in his twenties, is now under police guard.

The plot was described as a “chilling” attempt to import “Ken Bigley-style” terror methods to Britain.

In Baghdad, Westerners such as Mr Bigley have been shown manacled, blindfolded and dressed in orange jumpsuits.

They were forced to make appeals broadcast on the internet before being murdered by Islamist extremists.

Eight suspects were arrested in raids on 12 addresses in Birmingham's “balti triangle” early this morning in what the Home Office said was a “major” operation.

Seven of those arrested were said to be British-born Muslims and the other a Pakistani. One source said: “This plot represents a staggering new departure in terrorist tactics in the UK.

“It would be backed up by propaganda, images of him pleading for his life, putting the whole country on edge. The pressure on the PM would have been unimaginable.”

Army sources said the intended victim of the alleged plot was a soldier who had served in Afghanistan. As a Muslim member of the armed forces he would be regarded as a “traitor” by radicals.

The arrests came after a surveillance operation led by MI5 which lasted six months. Specialist officers from the Met's Counter Terrorism Command were involved and joined West Midlands police in the operation.

The raids took place in Sparkhill, Washwood Heath, Kingstanding and Edgbaston areas of Birmingham. Most of the addresses were residential but other locations included an Islamic bookshop, a cybercafé and a general food store. All the addresses are being searched.

One source said the gang was ready to strike, adding: “This was a serious terrorist plot which would have employed techniques that have only previously been used in Iraq. It would have been a chilling development.”

The source said of the suspects: “They were ready to go and a decision was taken to move quickly and make the arrests.”

Security chiefs know of about 30 terror plots in the UK, referred to as “priority one” cases, and this is believed to have been one of those.

Home Secretary John Reid was briefed through the night on the operation. West Midlands police said the suspects were held on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. In a statement the force added: “A number of addresses in Birmingham have been secured and sealed off and are currently being searched.

“While this operation poses no specific threat to the West Midlands, as a precautionary measure we will have an enhanced police presence at these locations. We would ask for the continued support of the public.

“Our message to people living in the West Midlands is to remain vigilant. Public safety is our absolute priority.”

The raids come after the MI5 director-general's disclosure that the agency was watching an unprecedented number of people.

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller said 3,000 agents were tracking 200 plots involving 1,600 young British Muslims. Last week, police arrested five people in terrorism investigations centred on Manchester and Halifax.

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Nine muslims detained in new uk terror plot { December 2007 }
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