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Monday, 20 January, 2003, 09:58 GMT
Mosque raid: Police statement in full
Police outside the mosque
No suggestion of chemicals at the mosque
Police in London have raided the Finsbury Park mosque, arresting seven people under the Terrorism Act 2000.

They said the raid, which was intelligence-led, was linked to the investigation into the discovery of the deadly poison ricin in Wood Green, north London.

At approx. 0200 GMT on Monday 20/1/03 in a pre-planned, intelligence-led operation, police executed search warrants issued under the Terrorism Act 2000 at the Finsbury Park mosque and two adjacent buildings.

Seven men (A/B/C/D/E/F/G) who were residing in the mosque were arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000.

They have been taken to a central London police station where they remain in custody.

The operation was not against the mosque itself or the many people who go there on a regular basis to pray

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is aware of the sensitivity of such an operation, but evidence gathered during recent counter-terrorist investigations in London and elsewhere has uncovered links between the premises and suspected terrorist activity.

Such evidence has made this operation absolutely necessary at this time.

The Met Police Service would have been failing in its duty to protect the public and to investigate suspected terrorist offences if it had not acted.

The operation was not against the mosque itself or the many people who go there on a regular basis to pray.

Target group

It was aimed specifically at individuals who have been supporting or engaging in suspected terrorist activity from within the building.

Police believe that these premises have played a role in the recruitment of suspected terrorists and in supporting their activity both here and abroad.

We have taken every step possible to show our respect for the Muslim faith and to minimise the impact to those who use the mosque

The operation is part of ongoing and extensive inquiries by the Met's anti-terrorist branch into alleged terrorist activity in London and elsewhere in the UK.

Although this operation is linked to arrests made in north and east London on 5/1/03, at this stage there is nothing to suggest that chemical substances are on the premises and there is no suggestion at this stage that there is any risk to the public.

During the planning of this operation police took advice from a wide range of informed people and have done our utmost not to cause offence during the operation.

Prayer facilities

We have taken every step possible to show our respect for the Muslim faith and to minimise the impact to those who use the mosque and the wider Muslim community.

In particular we have not entered those parts of the mosque which are used for prayer.

The focus has been on office space and accommodation areas.

We do not know how long the operation will take to conclude but we will take all possible steps to minimise disruption and inconvenience.

While the building is being searched alternative arrangements have been made for those who wish to attend prayers.

The operation is not connected in any way with the Charity Commission's decision to give formal notice of its provisional decision to remove Abu Hamza from his position at the mosque.

Abu Hamza has until today (20/1/03) to make representations regarding the Commission's provisional decision to remove him.

The timing of this and today's police operation is entirely coincidental.


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17 Jan 03 | England
23 Jan 02 | UK
17 Jan 03 | UK
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