Friday, 21 November 2014

United Kingdom To Charge Three With Terrorism-Related Offenses

LONDON—Prosecutors in the U.K. announced charges against three men in relation to terrorism offenses on Thursday, alleging that they were plotting to behead members of the British public.

The charges come amid a heightened terror alert in the U.K. and a push by authorities to arrest and prosecute extremists, including those inspired by militant groups such as Islamic State.

In court on Thursday, prosecutors alleged Nadeer Ali Sayed, 21 years old, Yousaf Shah Syed, 19, and Haseeb Hamayoon, 27, planned to behead members of the public. The men are being charged with planning to commit acts of terrorism and of jointly preparing these acts.

Dressed in matching gray robes and sporting beards, the three men listened in court as the charges were read and spoke only to confirm their names and addresses. They didn’t enter any pleas. A lawyer for the men declined to comment.

The three were arrested earlier this month, when armed police officers swooped on them in a series of raids across West London and the nearby town of High Wycombe.

Magistrate Michael Snow in court on Thursday told them they will be formally charged at London’s central criminal court, known as the Old Bailey, on Dec. 4. They remain in police custody.

U.K. authorities in August increased the U.K.’s assessment of the level of the threat from international terrorism for the first time in three years, raising it to “severe,” the second highest on its five-point scale that indicates an attack is “highly likely.”

The increase was prompted, in part, by the increasing number of people returning to the U.K. after fighting in Syria and Iraq. At that time, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the threat from Islamic State “is a greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before.”

The U.K. has recently secured a string of convictions regarding terrorist offenses linked to the civil war in Syria, including crimes such as training in Syrian terror camps or assisting with terrorist funding, according to the Crown Prosecution Service. Now, the focus is starting to shift to potentially more serious cases where people are alleged to be plotting attacks.

Wall Street Journal