Scotland Yard has thwarted an Islamic State driven “significant” terror plot with the arrest of four men on suspicion of terror offences as part of an investigation into Islamist-related terrorism.
At least one of the members of the group, suspected of plotting an attack on the streets of London, had travelled to Syria and has alleged links to IS, it has emerged.
It is the first suspected UK-based plot to come to light since the terror threat level was raised to “severe” last month.
A government source told the Press Association that officers believed the raids were an early disruption of what could have been a “significant plot”. The suspects -- aged 20 to 21 -- are thought to have had plans to acquire weapons for attacks on individuals.
They were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, Scotland Yard said. Those arrested were taken to police stations in central London and remain in custody.
A number of residential addresses and vehicles are continuing to be searched by specialist officers in west and central London as part of the investigation. Firearms officers assisted in one of the arrests but no shots were fired.
A 21-year-old who was tasered by officers was not injured and did not require medical treatment, police said.
On Tuesday night, one of the arrested men was named by The Sun newspaper as Tarik Hassane.
Armed police raided the 21-year-old’s family home on an estate in North Kensington, west London, at 4.30 am.
Hassane, who is understood to have the nickname ‘The Surgeon’, was tasered and later arrested. The others are believed to be based around the Ladbroke Grove area of London.
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, said: “It is a quite serious case and it’s one of a series of arrests that we’ve had over the last few weeks, which taken together for me confirm that the drumbeat around terrorism has changed.
“It’s a more intense drumbeat. We’re having to be more interventionist and a lot of it is linked back to Syria and Iraq.”
The raids on Tuesday followed a pre-planned operation, with at least some of the men having been subject to monitoring by counter-terrorism investigators for some time.
Following a joint meeting between SO15 and MI5 security agencies at an executive liaison group, the decision was made to disrupt any plot. Counter-terrorism investigators believed they had enough material to stage arrests.
IS, led by fanatic Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has demonstrated its brutality with the beheading of four Western hostages in Syria and broadcasting the murders in videos.
The terror group, which has taken over large parts of Iraq and Syria, has also attracted thousands of foreign jihadists to its cause, including over 500 Britons.