Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Terror Suspects Seized in Dawn Raids as New Act Bites; Campaign against Terror

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Terror Suspects Seized in Dawn Raids as New Act Bites; Campaign against Terror

Article excerpt

Byline: JUSTIN DAVENPORT;DAVID TAYLOR

HOME SECRETARY David Blunkett today began a roundup of foreign nationals living in Britain under sweeping new anti-terrorism powers.

The terror suspects were held in early morning raids and are expected to be detained in prison without trial by the end of the day.

Immigration officers supported by police carried out a series of raids on suspects living in London, the West Midlands and Bedfordshire after Mr Blunkett had issued certificates authorising their detention.

Officials refused to give details of the numbers detained or who was being held, but MI5 is understood to have drawn up a list of about a dozen names several weeks ago and submitted them to the Home Secretary for approval.

One suspect who sources said would definitely be in the first batch of arrests is Abu Qatada, the west London based Palestinian, regarded as Osama Bin Laden's European "ambassador".

The detainees are likely to be taken to Belmarsh maximum security prison in south-east London, where a number of terrorist suspects are awaiting extradition on criminal charges.

In a brief statement the Home Office said: "We can confirm that an immigration operation is under way in London, West Midlands and Bedfordshire and this is to detain foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism who pose a threat to national security."

Liberty, the civil rights group, is in touch with solicitors in "about a dozen" cases. "The typical individual is somebody who is associated with the more fundamentalist Islamic organisations," a spokesman said.

The Home Office confirmed the arrests were being made in connection with the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, given Royal Assent last week, and means any foreign nationals suspected of links to international terrorism can be locked up without trial where their deportation is not possible.

Government ministers have said the powers will be used against relatively small numbers and they have suggested that 16 people arrested and released last year might be caught in the new powers. …

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