Now it can be told: “Terrorist weapons were seized in raid.” The Independent reports:
Police risked offending delicate religious sensitivities by raiding the Finsbury Park mosque, but their actions were justified by the mini-arsenal of weapons, terrorist paraphernalia and forged passports they found inside.
Operation Mermant, which began in the early hours of January 20 2003, involved scores of officers in body armour using battering rams to enter the building.
Full details of what they discovered during three days of searches can only be revealed today following the conclusion of Abu Hamza’s trial on race hate charges.
The stash of equipment included chemical warfare protection suits, or NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) suits, as they are technically known.
They were found together with three blank-firing pistols, a stun gun and CS spray.
Officers also found a gas mask, handcuffs, hunting knives and a walkie talkie.
Detectives believe the equipment was being used in terror training camps located somewhere within the UK.
It is not clear exactly where these were, but speculation in the past has centred around remote parts of Wales, in particular the Brecon Beacons, and national parks such as those in the Highlands, Yorkshire Dales or Lake District.
“Our assessment was that this was material that had been used in training camps, probably here in the UK,” a senior police source said.
Some of the material was found close to Hamza’s office, although police sources admit they could not put his fingerprints on it, “literally or metaphorically”.
Police also found more than 100 stolen or forged passports and identity documents, laminating equipment, credit cards and chequebooks hidden under rugs and concealed above ceilings. One officer recalled pulling down part of a ceiling to find passports raining down on him.
And the article has much more.
JOHN adds: The Scotsman also covers Hamza’s trial and the evidence seized from the mosque by British authorities. I thought these paragraphs were interesting, especially in light of the current cartoon controversy:
When police first raided his home in 1999, they found inside what was later described in court as a “terrorism manual” containing a dedication to Osama bin Laden, sections on explosives and handguns, recipes for poisons, information on how to carry out an assassination and suggested targets such as skyscrapers, the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben.
They took it away, with tapes of some of his speeches, but later returned it. Hamza had been interviewed regularly by the British security services since 1997 and would continue to talk to them until 2000. He later recalled that they seemed more interested in protecting his freedom of speech than prosecuting him for encouraging terrorism.