Four men were arrested in Luton today on suspicion of terrorism offences in a raid orchestrated by national anti-terror police.
Scotland Yard announced that the men, who are in their 30s, were being questioned in London over claims they were ‘involved in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism’.
Officers searched seven houses in the Bedfordshire town as well as a number of cars in the area following dawn raids at 6am.
The arrests came as part of a long-running investigation into alleged terrorists in Luton, according to police, who insisted they are not related to the reaction to the ISIS attacks in Paris last month, or to the ongoing fighting in Syria.
Neighbours described hearing police officers should ‘Let us in!’ before they smashed down the door of one of the addresses.
Two of the men arrested are said to live with their wives and children, while a third is believed to be a single man living on his own.
The Metropolitan Police said in a statement today: ‘Four men have been arrested in Luton this morning on suspicion of committing offences under the Terrorism Act.
‘The arrests were carried out in a joint operation by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) and the Eastern Counter Terrorism and Intelligence Unit (ECTIU).
‘The men–who are all in their 30s–have been arrested on suspicion of being involved in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism. They have been taken into custody at a London police station.
‘Searches are being conducted at seven separate addresses in Luton in connection with this investigation. A number of vehicles are also being searched.
‘Today’s activity is part of an ongoing proactive investigation concerning individuals in the Luton area. It is not connected to the recent attacks in Paris.’
Police sources said that the suspects were not believed to be plotting an imminent attack.
The neighbour of one of the raided properties said: ‘The first I knew something was wrong was when I heard shouting at 6 o’clock.
‘It was, “Let us in, let us in!” Then I heard the sound of the door being smashed down and I could feel the walls of my home shaking. It was frightening.’
Residents living on a street where two houses were targeted by police said they had seen eight police cars pull up ahead of the raid.
The local police boss recently warned that officers in the area do not have the resources to investigate terror allegations properly and called on the Government to increase funding.
Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner Olly Martins said: ‘If there is a serious terrorist incident involving extremists connected with Luton, the responsibility is theirs and not that of the ridiculously overstretched and under-resourced Bedfordshire Police.’
The Government has vowed to step up its counter-terror operations in the wake of the murder of 130 people in Paris by ISIS-linked terrorists on November 13.
David Cameron claimed recently that a total of seven attacks on Britain had been thwarted in the past year thanks to the security services.
Parliament is due to vote today on whether to extend airstrikes against ISIS into Syria, where the terror group has its base, as part of the global war against jihadist violence.