British police have foiled an alleged plot to assassinate the Queen in a knife attack this weekend at a Remembrance Day event in London, it has been claimed.
Counter terrorist police swooped on addresses in the west of the British capital and in the Thames Valley and arrested four men aged 19 to 27.
Scotland Yard were remaining tight lipped yesterday but confirmed it was an alleged Islamist plot to be carried out on British soil and was part of “an ongoing investigation into Islamist-related terrorism”.
But they declined to name the target.
British tabloid The Sun yesterday reported the plan was to kill the 88-year-old Queen at an event at the Cenotaph in the capital where she was to lay a wreath. The newspaper said both the Queen and Prime Minister David Cameron had been made aware of the alleged plot.
Other British media were yesterday reporting police suspected it was more likely to be a gun attack plot on an unnamed target but potentially just random members of the public but armed police were already planning a tight cordon around the Royal family and Mr Cameron at war memorial events.
The palace declined to comment last night as is standard policy on security matters.
Armed guards had in the past two weeks been deployed to watch over ceremonial sentries including at the palace and Whitehall since the murder of Canadian reservist Nathan Crillo who had been on ceremonial duty at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa.
But there were particular fears there could be a random attack carried out on any of the hundreds of events leading up to and on the nationally marked Remembrance Day on Sunday and next Tuesday.
Heavily armed counter terrorist police swooped on four addresses across west London and High Wycombe in the Thames Valley and arrested the four men and raided another four addresses linked to the men.
The suspects were all arrested and are being held in custody on suspicion of being concerned in “the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism”.
Police yesterday remained guarding their homes as detectives inside could be seen removing items of potential evidence.
The 19-year-old, understood to be called Yusuf Syed, was arrested at his mother’s house in High Wycombe at the same time as a 22-year-old was arrested in Hounslow in London’s west at 8.45pm. The younger man was said to have just returned from a trip to Pakistan.
A 25-year-old was arrested in Uxbridge at 2.55am yesterday morning while a 27-year-old was arrested in a car in the street in Southall at 8.30pm yesterday.
The arrests came from intelligence gathered by spy agency M15.
It is understood at least one of the men had been spoken to police in the past for jihadism. A second of the four man had had his passport seized by authorities recently after he planned to travel to the Middle East to take part in jihad.
Earlier this month, senior police officers and MPs said there was likely to be a significant rise in the number of armed police at the Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day commemorations in London due to increased fears of a terror attack either on military personnel taking part or a dignitary. It is understood police were mostly fearing a lone attacker with a hand weapon as opposed to an orchestrated bomb plot.
The latest arrests come a few months after the national terror threat level in the UK was raised from substantial to severe, meaning a terrorist attack is “highly likely”.
It also followed social media calls by Islamic State (ISIS) extremists for followers to carry out unsophisticated lone wolf attacks in home states whether in Britain, Australia or the United States.
The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) raised the national level against a backdrop of increasing concerns over hundreds of aspiring British jihadis travelling to Iraq and Syria to learn terrorist “tradecraft” and fight alongside terror groups like ISIS.