Last Thursday and Friday British police arrested four men and one woman at Birmingham and Gatwick Airport on charges of preparation and instigating acts of terrorism. Authorities found all the suspects live in Birmingham, a city that has had a known reputation for housing a base of support for jihad.
While all five were suspected of planning terrorist attacks, the British police said that there was, “no information of an attack on the UK was planned.”West Midland Police worked in conjunction with MI-5 and also received input from French and Belgium authorities in locating IS terror cells.
According to Assistant Police Chief Marcus Beale, who leads counter-terrorism for the force the sting was “pre-planned and intelligence led.” As of Friday police were searching various properties in search of anymore evidence of the group’s terrorist connection.
The five individuals were found to have been plotting attacks with terrorist Mohammed Abrini, who had be surveilling soccer stadiums in Birmingham for potential terrorist attacks. Officials believe the group was looking to attack the London Eye, the giant Ferris wheel on the south bank of the Thames River.
British media reported that prior to the terrorist attacks in Paris that two of the terrorist suspects made repeated visits to Birmingham. Authorities believe Abrini and Abdelhamid Abaaoud, were those suspects. Pictures of Birmingham were recovered from Abaaoud’s cell phone after he was killed in a raid. There were also reports that throughout the course of the night of the Paris attacks that one of the suspects had made repeated calls to Birmingham.
It is not a surprise that IS has been eyeing Birmingham as their potential base of operations in the UK. It fits the same profile as Molenbeek as a blue collar town in which over time seen an increase in minorities relocate and form their own communities. The Gatestone Institute reported that there several Muslim enclaves in Birmingham including Bordersley-Green, Hodge Hill, Ladywood, Sparbrook, and Nechelles as all of which have been referred to as possible “no-go zones.”
UK Security Services are very interested in the West Midlands has a population of 5.6 million and 376,000 of those are Muslim, and have classified Birmingham’s metropolitan area second only to East London in level of activity pertaining to terrorism.
While there are no formal statistics, reports indicate that since 1998 there have been multiple terrorist convictions with cases originating from Birmingham including a 2007 plot to behead a British Muslim solider, and the case of Moinul Abedein, an al-Qaeda inspired terrorist who planned massive bomb attacks in the UK.
In April 2013, 11 Muslim men from Birmingham were found guilty of plotting a terrorist attack on the homeland. Birmingham was also the home of jihadist terrorist Junaid Hussein and his bride Sally Jones.
While the arrest of five suspected terrorists is to be commended, the disturbing trend of jihadists originating from Birmingham requires closer inspection. The UK needs to start giving the terrorism threat posed in Birmingham serious consideration.
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