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7 held in UK for terrorism financing

world Updated: May 01, 2012 19:53 IST

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Seven people, including a woman, have been arrested by Scotland Yard in raids across Britain today on suspicion of financing terrorism in Somalia by smuggling of khat, a relatively mild stimulant, to the US and Canada.

The police said six men and a woman were arrested in London, Coventry and Cardiff in early morning raids by counter-terrorism officers.

They are being held in custody at a police station in central London.

In a statement, Scotland Yard said the arrests were part of an investigation into a network suspected of illegally exporting the stimulant khat to the US and Canada.

The arrests were part of an international probe into alleged terror fund-raising and money-laundering.

Investigators from the US Department of Homeland Security have also been involved, police said.

The plant khat is used by some people from East Africa and is not banned in the UK - but it is a controlled substance in North America.

Khat is a relatively mild stimulant compared to other drugs circulating in the UK and is typically used by older men from the Horn of Africa, the BBC reported.

The UK served as a legal staging post for imports of Khat to other nations before it was controlled in North America and other European Union countries.