Nine men charged with planning terrorist attack in the UK

Nine men were charged by the British authorities with planning a terrorist bombing, the latest in a spate of alleged European plots disrupted before they were carried out.

Lefteris Pitarakis/AP
Snow dusts the Houses of Parliament in central London. Nine men have been held on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack on the British Parliament and the London Eye.

British police have charged nine of 12 men arrested last week on suspicion that they were plotting to carry out a terrorist attack.

The charges come in the wake of warnings from Western intelligence agencies in October about possible terror attacks in European cities. A common thread in the arrests and charges is that they involve "homegrown" Muslim plotters who are European citizens.

The nine men are charged with planning to cause an explosion or explosions "of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property" in October and November this year, according to the Guardian. The paper wrote the men will also be charged with downloading materials to plan an attack, carrying out reconnaissance and testing bombs.

Three of the original 12 have since been released without charge.

The Sunday Mercury, citing "a security source close to the investigation" reported that at least five of the men were of Bangladeshi origin, and that they had planned attacks against the British Parliament and the London Eye, the Ferris wheel that is one of Britain's top tourist attractions.

Security officials have "played down" any connection between the plotters and Al Qaeda, the Mercury said.

The men are aged between 19 and 28, lived in Cardiff, London, and Stoke-on-Trent, and were arrested a week ago by unarmed police, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Sky News broadcast a statement on the case from Sue Hemming, a top British counterterror official.

"Lawyers from the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] Counter Terrorism Division have been working with the police on this case from an early stage and were on hand to give advice while the men were interviewed.

"I have reviewed the evidence provided to me by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit and I am satisfied there is sufficient for a realistic prospect of conviction, and it is in the public interest that these men should be charged with these offences."

The charges come two days after Dutch police arrested 12 men of Somali origin in Rotterdam on suspicion they were planning an imminent terror attack. No explosives have been found but the man are all still in police custody, according to CNN.

Some in the Netherlands fear the country has become a target for Islamic terrorism because of its former military role in Afghanistan the emergence of the anti-Muslim Freedom Party, according to Euronews.

Earlier this month a suicide bomber blew himself up in Sweden, a country also unaccustomed to being a terror target. Only the attacker – a British citizen – was killed.

The United States State Department issued a vague warning on attacks in Europe in early October. The British and Japanese governments warned their citizens on travel to France, and France warned its citizens on travel to the United Kingdom.

The German press reported that the main source of intelligence on possible terror plots in Europe was a German citizen of Afghan origin being held at Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan, according to Newsweek.

In a recent study on homegrown terrorism in Europe, funded by the Danish government, author Tomas Precht found a spike in such cases since 2003.

In particular, it seems to be factors such as foreign policy, military intervention in Muslim countries, a single provocative event such as the Danish cartoon crisis, or the presence of a charismatic person, that leads an individual to chose violence. A personal crisis can also trigger this change. Outrage and revenge against the West appear to be strong motivators.

Precht recommended policies to better integrate Muslim communities in Europe and to combat Islamophobia.

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