Eleven out of 12 suspects arrested in a major anti-terror operation in Britain are Pakistani nationals, the head of Greater Manchester Police said on Thursday.
“We’ve been very clear about the origin of the people that have been arrested... 11 of them are Pakistani nationals. That is a matter of fact,” said Peter Fahy, briefing reporters on raids carried out across northwest England.
It had already been reported that 10 of those arrested, in raids hastily organised on Wednesday after a security blunder by Britain’s top counter-terror police chief, were of Pakistani origin, but not their nationality.
The arrests were made in a number of locations including Liverpool’s John Moores University, Manchester and the nearby town of Clitheroe.
Earlier Prime Minister Gordon Brown defended the decision to carry out the raids early, after Scotland Yard’s anti-terror chief Bob Quick was photographed carrying secret documents on the planned action, with details clearly legible.
“We have been investigating a major terrorist plot and we have got to act early. Our first concern is always the safety of the public. It is right that we took the urgent action that we did over the course of yesterday,” he said.
Britain has been on high security alert ever since the July 2005 attacks in London, which killed 56 people including four suicide bombers, and failed car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow in June 2007.
The security threat remains on its second highest level, severe. MI5 chief Jonathan Evans said in January that Al-Qaeda leaders based in Pakistan still intended to mount attacks on Britain -- and had the capacity to do so.
Quick tendered his resignation overnight, which was accepted by London Mayor Boris Johnson.