4th arrest is white Muslim convert arrested over 'Gordon Brown assassination plot'

A white Muslim convert is being held by detectives investigating alleged threats to kill the Prime Minister and Tony Blair.


The 25-year-old man was arrested at a flat in the Whalley Range area of Blackburn, Lancs, shortly before 7am on Tuesday.

He is believed to be a friend of two other men arrested by counter-terrorism officers at Manchester Airport on August 14.

The pair, who had been about to board a flight to Finland, live less than 100 yards from the home of the suspect held on Tuesday.

A fourth suspect, also from Blackburn, was arrested in Church, near Accrington, shortly after the arrests at Manchester Airport.

All four men are being questioned about a posting on an Arabic website that often carries messages from senior members of al-Qaeda.

The message, written in English, allegedly included a threat to target "all the political leaders, especially Tony Blair and Gordan (sic) Brown".

It appeared only briefly on January 24 and purported to have been written by Shaykh Umar Rabie al-Khalaila, who described himself as "the leader of al-Qaeda in Britain".

The latest man to be arrested changed his name when he converted to Islam four years ago.

A friend, who asked not to be named, said he was surprised by his arrest.

"He is a good lad," said the 25-year-old businessman. "I used to see him at the mosque and he doesn't have extreme views".

He was not surprised that police had made another arrest. "I've seen plainclothes police hanging around in cars for a few weeks now".

Police broke down the door to the suspect's flat at 6.40am. The property lies behind a butcher's shop and next to an Islamic bookshop.

Specialist search teams from the Lancashire Constabulary began a detailed search of the premises. They are not expected to complete the task until the weekend.

The three men arrested on August 14 are being held in Manchester. Counter-terrorism officers have until Thursday to decide whether to charge them, release them or seek an extension to their custody.

The mother of one of the arrested trio insists that her son is innocent.

Mariam Kanmi, 50, said her son, Ishaq, 22, a teacher, was arrested as he prepared to fly out to Helsinki, where he was due to spend the month of Ramadan at a conference.

"My son is an innocent boy and we are a well-respected family here," said Mrs Kanmi. "He is not involved in terrorism.

"He hasn't incited anyone to kill Mr Brown. He hasn't plotted with terrorists. We haven't even got a TV here or the internet.

"He was going to Finland for Holy month. There was going to be a grand opening but he has missed that. He's been going there for six years. He always teaches abroad".

She added: "It's wrong that he's being held. Why are they taking this long?"

The other men being held are aged 21 and 23.

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