***See below for chemical-vest update.***
Sky News uses the C-word: “Police are not expecting to find conventional weapons. They are looking to find chemical ingredients of some kind.”
They had “specific intelligence” following months of surveillance, according to BBC sources. The search of the house will apparently take days. One of the residents was shot in the shoulder and taken to the hospital, where he was arrested on suspicion of terrorism.
Is Sky sure they were looking for chemical weapons? The report from Australia’s Sunday Times includes an ominous detail:
Police said the operation followed close liaison between security services and the Health Protection Agency, a body charged with guarding against infectious diseases…
Officers wearing chemical, biological and radiological protection were sent to the scene in the ethnically mixed Forest Gate area of the capital while nearby roads were cordoned off.
The BBC article says the latter was a “precautionary” measure. Meanwhile, the Sunday Times quotes one neighbor as saying the family that lives in the house is … “very religious.” As the man says: Heh. Indeed.
Sky has photos. Standby for more details.
Update: Worth re-reading.
Update: The Guardian talks to the neighbors.
Dimple Hirani, a 21-year-old student, described how the two brothers had started to wear traditional dress and gowns recently. She told Guardian Unlimited, “There is nothing unusual about that but it did strike me that they had changed.”…
Kaisar Hussain … said, “They were targeted because they were young black brothers. It is traditional that in this country you cannot have jihad.”
Mr Mahmood described how both “brothers”, who had become more observant after 9/11, worshipped at the mosque just around the corner from Lansdown Road.
Update: The Independent says police have put up two tents outside the front of the house. And they quote another neighbor: “They were really nice lads and really nice people. I never thought anything of it. Lots of young Muslims these days are getting more religious, especially after 9/11. It’s nothing to be suspicious about.”
Update: Getty has photos from Lansdown Road.
Update: Meanwhile, in Pakistan…
Update: Like some of the British papers, the Times leads with the fact that the police shot a man, not with the, y’know, suspected chemical weapons factory.
But here’s a fun excerpt:
Sky News broadcast what it said was an interview with two friends of the man who was shot. They were not identified, and they spoke with their backs to the camera, their heads covered and their faces hidden. One of the men prefaced the interview by reciting a Koranic verse…
The police conducted the raid, the man said, because “they want to give us Muslims a bad name.”
Update: The good people of the UK’s Muslim Public Affairs Committee respond predictably: by calling for Muslims to “wake up and rise” against the police who perpetrated this ghastly anti-terrorist raid.
Update: Perfect timing from Iqbal Sacranie.
Police fear that the strike, using a home-made chemical device, was imminent after an informant told MI5 that he had seen the lethal garment at the home of two young men…
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard’s Anti-Terrorist Branch, said that … there had been no time to conduct further surveillance, which suggests that the police believed a terrorist was close to launching an attack. The fear is that if chemicals were to be used then a likely target could be a train compartment on the London Underground.
Another theory is that a suicide attacker, wearing the vest under a shirt, could trigger the device in a crowded venue, such as a bar full of people watching an England World Cup match.