Five people were arrested near Birmingham, England on suspicion of being connected to terror attacks in Paris and Brussels. The arrests were planned by West Midlands police in coordination with MI5 and French and Belgian authorities. The BBC reports there was no information on any planned attack within Britain:
Police said all those arrested are being held in the West Midlands on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.
Officers are also searching a number of properties in Birmingham.
Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, who leads on counter-terrorism for the force, said the operation was part of an “extensive investigation”, and the arrests were “pre-planned and intelligence-led”.
The BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner said Whitehall officials described the operation as “significant”.
It appears police believe these five suspects, four men and one woman, may have been connected to the attackers who planned and executed the deadly Paris attack last year and the attack in Brussels last month. The Telegraph reports:
A key line of inquiry is whether the group is connected to Mohamed Abrini, a prime suspect in both the Brussels terror attacks last month and the November Paris atrocities.
Abrini is known to have visited contacts in Birmingham last year as well as visiting London and Manchester.
The British arrests came less than a week after Abrini himself was finally detained by Belgian police.
Mohamed Abrini is believed to be the man in the hat seen in security video from the Brussels airport. The terror cell is known to have discussed possible targets in other countries including Britain. ISIS has promised more and larger attacks to follow. Last month an ISIS-associated website ran a poll asking readers what color the Eiffel Tower would be next, a reference to the Paris landmark being lit with the colors of the Belgian flag after the Brussels attack.