The police in Birmingham said on Saturday that they were working with French and Belgian investigators on possible links between the Paris attackers and individuals based in the West Midlands city, after several reports in the British news media suggested such links.
The West Midlands Police assistant chief constable Marcus Beale said: “The West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit is working hand-in-hand with counter terrorism colleagues in London, the national CT network and security services to provide support to the French and Belgian investigations and of course to address any associated terrorism threat to the UK”.
He added: “The threat to the UK from international terrorism remains at severe, meaning an attack is considered to be highly likely. We ask that people remain alert, vigilant but not alarmed and report anything suspicious to us at the earliest possible opportunity.”
While some reports suggested the ringleader of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, had links in Birmingham, others said one of the attackers, yet unnamed, visited Britain earlier this year. The reported links were being investigated by Britain’s security officials.
The reports appeared in the backdrop of Britain launching another round of airstrikes on Syria on Friday: “Daesh terrorists have again been struck by Royal Air Force aircraft, with Typhoon fighters flying their first missions over Syria and Iraq”, the Ministry of Defence said.
The Daily Telegraph reported that counter-terrorism officials had established that the man, who has not been publicly identified, travelled to the UK earlier this year.
“The man is thought to have slipped briefly into the UK and travelled to London, Birmingham and Kent, where he is understood to have met individuals suspected of being capable of plotting or assisting terrorist activity in Britain”, the newspaper reported.