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8 Nov, 2014 15:43

UK police foil homegrown ‘Islamist plot’ to kill Queen on Remembrance Day – report

UK police foil homegrown ‘Islamist plot’ to kill Queen on Remembrance Day – report

Heightened security arrangements have been adopted for the forthcoming Remembrance Day commemorations in London, after four men were arrested by counter-terrorist police. The Sun reports the men were plotting a knife attack on Queen Elizabeth II.

On Thursday, police arrested four men between 19 and 27, three of them in London, as part of an “ongoing investigation into Islamist-related terrorism.” All those arrested are reportedly UK residents.

UK media reported that the police had been tracking the suspects for months with help from the domestic security agency MI5, and unusually, used an armed unit to arrest one of them on the street, suggesting an imminent threat. No firearms were found at the suspects’ houses, but the Sun newspaper claimed the knife attack would be carried out during the annual Remembrance Day ceremony, which this year takes place on Sunday 9th November.

The Times reported that the group was inspired by calls from Islamic State to extend its campaign of religious violence to Western Europe, although the men were not under the direct command of anyone from the Iraq-based group.

Neighbours of Yousaf Syed, the 19-year-old arrested in High Wycombe, just outside the UK capital, told the Daily Mail that the increasingly combative teenager had recently taken to wearing traditional Muslim garb, as well as growing a full beard. Syed recently returned from a trip to Pakistan, and his house had already been searched by terrorism investigators in April.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth lays a wreath during the annual Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph in London November 11, 2012 (Reuters / Luke MacGregor)

A specially-made steel barrier has been erected around the Cenotaph monument in London, where on Sunday the Queen will lay a wreath, to commemorate the anniversary of the Nov. 11, 1918 armistice that ended World War I. As the war began in 1914, 100 years ago, the commemorations have been particularly high-profile this year.

“Whatever the security assessment, Her Majesty would not shirk from her responsibility and duty - and this Remembrance Sunday is no different,” a Buckingham Palace source told the Sun.

In August, MI5 raised the UK terrorist threat level to “severe” – the second highest out of five grades – meaning that an attack is “highly likely,” with Scotland Yard saying last month that it is dealing with an "exceptionally high" number of simultaneous investigations into Islamist terror cells.

More than 220 suspected terrorists have been arrested in the UK so far this year, according to Home Office statistics.