British police arrest seven in latest anti-jihadi sweep

The men arrested include one who had been seized in an earlier crackdown on the banned jihadi group Al-Muhajiroun, led by extremist preacher Anjem Choudary.

Tal Cohen/Reuters/File
Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary addresses members of the media during a protest in north London in October 2009. Two men connected to Mr. Choudary were taken into custody by anti-terror police in London today.

Seven men were arrested in early dawn raids today in Britain, the latest in a rising number of roundups there amid fears of fallout from the Islamic State wars in Iraq and Syria.

Anti-terror police captured two men in London in connection with extremist preacher Anjem Choudary and his support of jihad in Syria, while separately, police picked up five men in South Wales for support of banned Islamist groups.

Police raided multiple addresses seeking materials like forged travel documents and incriminating cellphone information that could be used for travel to Iraq and Syria or Islamic State recruitment.

British authorities are increasingly turning to anti-terror laws to constrict efforts to radicalize, incite, and aid prospective jihadi soldiers from the UK and Europe going to the Middle East

On Sunday, five other men were arrested in the UK in what have become regular detentions of suspects, including five high-profile arrests in early October and nine in September.

Two of the men arrested Sunday were found hiding among illegal immigrants in the back of a truck in Dover. One of them had been among the nine men arrested in September as part of a crackdown on the banned jihadi group Al-Muhajiroun, led by Mr. Choudary.

Another of the Al-Muhajiroun group, Siddhartha Dhar, skipped bail after being released in September and joined Islamic State 24 hours later, according to the Telegraph:

Dhar, also known as Abu Rumaysah, took to Twitter last week to mock British security arrangements that allowed him to slip out of the country. The 31-year-old, who was a lieutenant of the hate preacher Anjem Choudary, also boasted having a child under the Islamic State and posted images of himself hold[ing] the infant and an automatic weapon.

He claimed to now be a “citizen of the Islamic State”, adding: “What a shoddy security system Britain must have to allow me to breeze through Europe to the Islamic State.” He said he had “made a mockery of British intelligence and surveillance.”

British authorities have identified the Welsh city of Cardiff as an especially ripe field for recruitment and transport to Islamic State battlefields, a "hotbed," as one official put it, according to the Press Association. In recent weeks police have detained nearly a dozen young men in connection with efforts to travel and join Islamic State. 

The Press Association quotes South Wales Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Holland asking for support to help "tackle ... extremism," and saying: 

'I recognise the recent media coverage has raised very real concerns but I would like to thank and reassure the public that the links we have with our various religious communities remain strong and constructive.

'Following on from Counter Terrorism Awareness Week last week, which encouraged the public and businesses to be vigilant, I would like to ask once again for your co-operation and ask that you contact us if you know or suspect something.'

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