Muslims in Britain plotted to behead a Muslim soldier of the British military, and show the beheading on the Internet.
By Adam Fresco and Daniel McGrory for The TimesOnline, with thanks to all who sent this in:
Security services said today that they had foiled a suspected plot to kidnap and torture a British Muslim soldier recently returned from service abroad before beheading him live on the internet.
Eight men were arrested in a series of dawn raids at 12 addresses in Birmingham. John Reid, the Home Secretary, has been informed of the arrests and is receiving regular updates about the operation.
Security sources said that the carefully planned operation had averted the alleged plan to kill the soldier, which was in its later stages.
The sources said that the alleged plotters planned to force their victim to plead for his life in online videos before torturing him and executing him much as Ken Bigley, the Liverpool hostage, was killed in Iraq in October 2004. The beheading would have been shown live on an extremist website.
The target, a man in his 20s who has not been named, is thought to have found out about the plot. He is now said to be in protective police custody. It is understood that a surveillance operation by anti-terror officers had been going on for several months.
In an unusual move, West Midlands police have called a press conference for later today to give more details about the police operation and to reassure the local communities.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that a major counter terrorism operation took place earlier today led by West Midlands Police.
“The Home Secretary was fully briefed on the operation and is receiving regular updates as developments occur. This operation is a reminder of the real and serious nature of the terrorist threat we face.”