NPR logo Six Men Held On Terror Charges During Pope Benedict XVI's State Visit To Britain


Six Men Held On Terror Charges During Pope Benedict XVI's State Visit To Britain

Pope Benedict XVI is seen through candles as he attends a Service of Prayer at St. Mary's University College Chapel at Twickenham, London. Earlier today, police officers arrested five men suspected of planning a terrorist plot. Toby Melville, Pool/AP Photo hide caption

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Toby Melville, Pool/AP Photo

UPDATE at 2:06 p.m. ET: While Pope Benedict XVI was speaking in Westminster Hall, police arrested a sixth man," The Guardian reports.

According to the BBC, "all six, who were street cleaners, have been taken to a London police station."


In London this morning, five men were arrested by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Counter Terrorism Command "on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism."

The MPS released this statement:

The men, aged 26, 27, 36, 40, and 50, were arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 at business premises in central London.

The men have been taken to a central London police station where they will be interviewed by detectives.

Searches are being carried out under the Terrorism Act 2000 at: a business premises in central London and residential premises in north and east London. Initial searches have not uncovered any hazardous items.

According to The Guardian, "police say no hazardous material, namely bomb making equipment or guns, have been found."

As NPR's Philip Reeves reminds us, the arrests took place on the second day of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom.

Apropos of that, here is more from the MPS:

Following today’s arrests the policing arrangements for the Papal visit were reviewed and we are satisfied that our current policing plan remains appropriate. The itinerary has not changed.  There is no change to the UK threat level.

According to Reeves, "exactly what these men are suspected of planning is not clear."

Security surrounding the Pope's visit to Britain has been extremely tight. News of the arrests came on what has so far been a generally upbeat day in the spotlight for the pontiff.