Counter-terrorism officials arrested nine people on Thursday, including the radical preacher, Pakistan-origin Anjem Choudhary, as the House of Commons prepared to meet in a special session on Friday to authorise Britain joining US air strikes against ISIS.
After Prime Minister David Cameron indicated Britain’s willingness to join the strikes in a speech at the UN on Wednesday, his UK cabinet was scheduled to discuss plans for the air strikes, which will be put to vote in parliament on Friday.
Stating that Britain was ready to ‘play its part’ in fighting ISIS, Cameron said the Iraqi government had made a ‘clear request’ for international military assistance against the group, which provided a ‘clear basis in international law for action’.
Ruling coalition partner Liberal Democrats and the opposition Labour said they would support the plan for UK air strikes in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Scotland Yard announced the arrest of nine men on suspicion of being members of a banner organisation and of encouraging terrorism. They were arrested from locations in London, while one address was being searched in Stoke-on-Trent.
“These arrests are part of an ongoing investigation into Islamist related terrorism and are not in response to any immediate public safety risk”, the police said, without identifying those arrested.
However, reports identified one of those arrested as Choudary, who has been the focus of security attention for some years now for his radical preaching. He earlier headed the al-Muhajiroun group, which was banned in 2010.