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Student, 21, among four arrested over terror plot to attack Britain

October 17th, 2017

A 21-year-old medical student who studied in Sudan and dispensed online advice about Islam and marriage was among four men being questioned on Wednesday by counter-terrorism detectives over a potential plot to attack Britain.
Police arrested four men aged 20 and 21 in London on suspicion of being concerned in the “commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism”. One of them was Tarik Hassane, from west London. On the site Ask.FM he dealt with queries about what type of woman he would be interested in marrying, expressing a choice for one who was a devout Muslim.
Scotland Yard counter-terrorism command was interviewing Hassane and the three other men and examining items seized from their homes, including computer equipment. One of the men arrested is suspected of having links to Islamic State (Isis). Counter-terrorism officials believe the plot they allegedly disrupted was “significant”, with one suspect being arrested by armed police because of the fear he may have access to weapons.
However, some past high-profile terror arrests have been based on intelligence that turned out to be inaccurate, and have led to accusations that police and MI5 have ramped up the nature of possible plots.
In his social media postings, Hassane says he missed out narrowly on getting at a place to study medicine at Kings College, London. Instead he was studying in Sudan, still hoping for a medical qualification. In one posting, he said he hoped to return to Britain for a few years, before settling in Saudi Arabia.
Detectives are thought to be examining his posts, trying to work out what is serious and what is a young man joking and making fun of those he was communicating with. The posts cover topics including his love of football and discussions on Syria, religious teachings, women, music and references to living in west London.
Four months ago Hassane hinted that he yearned for his London home, writing that although he had many friends he “just miss family a bit”. He said of his London friends: “I don’t miss them to the point where it changes my emotional state. But I look proper forward to seeing them lol”.
He wrote how his family was devout and told of his attraction to Islam at age 16: “Friend of mine who wasn’t practicing told me to come to the masjid to chill. I went and then met some good older practicing bros. Started hanging around with them and that’s basically it”.
Back in west London, neighbours of a property at which Hassane was arrested described hearing a loud commotion as police officers raided his family’s first-floor flat at 5am on Tuesday.
“There were three bangs – it woke me up. Police were there all day stripping the place,” said one neighbour. Another said police were searching the flat until late in the evening, with officers replacing the front door, which had been taken off its hinges during the raid.
Nesreen Ahmed, 31, a mother of two little girls, said she was woken at around 4am on Tuesday. She said that all the neighbours went out on to the balcony, but were shouted at to get inside by armed police. “I was very scared because of my two children.” Assefa and Genet Negash, who live in the same block, said the Hassanes were a lovely family and very good neighbours. “The mother and the daughter are lovely women,” she said.
Last night magistrates gave police until 14 October to question the men.
Under the Terrorism Act suspects can be held without charge for a maximum of 14 days.
Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said of the recent arrests: “It is one of a series of arrests that we have had over the last few weeks which, taken together, for me confirm that the drumbeat around terrorism has changed. It’s a more intense – we are having to be more interventionist and a lot of it is linked back to Syria and Iraq.”

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