TERRORISTS with links to the Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah have reportedly been caught stashing tons of explosive materials in London.
It’s claimed radicals stockpiled thousands of ice packs containing ammonium nitrate at a secret bomb factory on the outskirts of the capital.
The Daily Telegraph reveals officers from MI5 and the Metropolitan Police uncovered the terrifying plot in the autumn of 2015.
Three metric tonnes of ammonium nitrate – a common ingredient in homemade bombs – was said to have been discovered.
That is more than the amount used to in the horrific Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people and devastated hundreds of buildings.
Four properties were raided in North West London and a man in his forties was arrested on suspicion of plotting terrorism before being released without charge.
One source said the plot was
“properly organised terrorism”.
Another added that enough explosive materials were stored to do
“a lot of damage”.
MI5’s intelligence investigation is understood to have lasted months was part of an effort to disrupt the plot and also get an insight into what Hezbollah was plotting.
However, there was no evidence that the UK was to be the target of any bomb attacks.
A UK intelligence source said: “MI5 worked independently and closely with international partners to disrupt the threat of malign intent from Iran and its proxies in the UK.”
According to the report, the plot was part of a wider Hezbollah plan to lay the groundwork for future attacks and noted foiled Hezbollah operations in Thailand, Cyprus and New York.
All those plots were made public and were believed to have targeted Israeli interests around the world.
The Telegraph said the Cyprus case was strikingly similar to the one in London. In 2015 in Cyprus, confessed Hezbollah agent Hussein Bassam Abdallah was sentenced to six years in jail after he was found with 8.2 tons of ammonia nitrate in his home. He had reportedly planned to attack Israeli targets.
The Telegraph said its information came after a three-month investigation in which more than 30 current and former officials in Britain, America and Cyprus were approached and court documents were obtained.
The report also said, that in Cyprus the ammonia nitrate was also stored in ice packs, saying that they were a convenient, seemingly harmless and easy to transport.
Sources told the Telegraph that the UK plot was at a very early stage and no targets had been selected. It said UK intelligence used to opportunity to try and establish what Hezbollah was up to and so did not disrupt it immediately.
The news comes amid mounting tensions between Iran and the west and after Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced a blanket ban on those with links to Hezbollah.
Britain blacklisted Hezbollah’s military wing in 2008 but had until recently made no move against its political wing.
However, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the UK now believes that any distinction between its military and political wings “does not exist.”
The move came after the group was included as part of Lebanon’s new government. While the cabinet is headed by Saad Hariri, a Western-backed Sunni politician who has held the job since 2016, Hezbollah made significant gains at the expense of the largest Sunni party and now controls three government ministries.
Tehran is a major supporter of Hezbollah and its “resistance” against the Islamic Republic’s arch foe, Israel.
During the debate, Labour, whose leader Jeremy Corbyn once referred to Hezbollah as his “friends,” said the Home Office had not provided evidence to justify its change in stance on the Iran-backed organization’s political wing.
Corbyn talking about his friends;
Labour said in a statement;
“Decisions on the proscription of organizations as terror groups are supposed to be made on the advice of civil servants based on clear evidence that those organizations fall foul of the proscription criteria set out in legislation, ”
Well, I wonder what Corbyn has to say today about it?
It raises questions about whether senior UK government figures chose not to reveal the plot in part because they were invested in keeping the Iran nuclear deal afloat?
The US, under President Donald Trump, has since pulled out of the deal and hit Iran with fresh sanctions.
The paper also raised questions as to why the information was not revealed as the UK debated banning the entire Hezbollah organization earlier this year.
In March, it finally declared Hezbollah’s political wing illegal too after years of distinguishing it from its military wing.
Hezbollah was established in 1982 during the Lebanese civil war and fought a 2006 war with Israel. Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, regularly threatens to target Israel with thousands of advanced missiles that can reach all major Israeli cities.
The group is considered a terror organization by Israel, the US and the Arab League. The European Union and Australia only designate the group’s military wing as such.
It has been blamed for a string of attacks against Israelis including the 2012 attack on a busload of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria that killed five, the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires that killed 29, and the 1994 AMIA Jewish centre bombing in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and injured hundreds more.
At the recent annual Al Quds march in London that took place last week, it was gladly noted to see no Hezbollah flags in attendance but the hatred and disdain for Israel was still as evident as ever.