British intelligence has unearthed a plot by nine men to abduct and behead a British Muslim soldier from Birmingham. The beheading would have been recorded live, while the soldier pleaded with Tony Blair to withdraw British troops from Iraq, and uploaded on the Internet.
Intelligence analysts said the discovery was disturbing proof that Britain's domestic terrorist threat is still evolving. "Moving on from bomb attacks intended to kill and maim as many as possible, extremists are instead now trying to spark political panic and social tension with individual acts of murder live on camera.(The Muslim soldier’s) death would have burned a terrible new image into Britain's collective nightmare of Islamic terrorism," said an official statement.
Officials claimed that many more Muslims — around 25 — had been targeted by the gang. Their abductions would have followed that of the soldier. Security has been arranged for all of them, while the Muslim soldier, a young 21 year old, has been moved to a safe location. Two other servicemen who were said to be at risk as well are under armed guard.
The nine men were being questioned at a police station in Coventry, while two other suspects were reported to be still at large.
Security sources believe the scheme was masterminded by a senior Al Qaeda official in Pakistan. At least one of the men arrested is reported to have recently travelled to Pakistan. Eight of the arrested men are of Pakistani origin while one is a Pakistani citizen.
Professor David Capitanchik, an expert on terrorism at Aberdeen University said terrorist tactics seemed to have changed. "This is something that happens more and more as splinter cells constantly try to slip under counter-terrorist surveillance," he said.