Three holes in Blackburn, Lancashire

The Times (London) and the Telegraph report the arrest of two native British Muslims at the Manchester airport last week as they prepared to leave the country, and the detention of a third, the brother of one of the other men, in Accrington, Lancashire. The third works as a security guard; it’s not clear from the reports what the other two do. Aged 21, 22 and 23, the three men all hail from Blackburn, Lancashire, the town immortalized in the last verse of “A Day in the Life.”

The three men are being questioned over a briefly displayed Internet post threatening to kill Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. British authorities think that one of the men is “Shaykh Umar Rabie al-Khalaila,” who identifies himself in the post as “the leader of al Qaeda in Britan.” The post demanded the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and the release of prisoners from Belmarsh high security jail in south east London, where the radical clerics Abu Hamza al-Masri and Abu Qatada are held. The Times adds that the current threat level in Britain is “severe” meaning, according to MI5, that there is “a high likelihood of future terrorist attacks” and “a continuing high level of threat to the UK.”

PAUL adds: For some of us, Blackburn is better known as the home of the Blackburn Rovers, for whom American goalkeeper Brad Freidl excelled until this season when he transferred to Aston Villa. They are one of three teams, along with Villa and Everton, to be founding members of both the Football League (in the 19th century) and the Premier League more than 100 years later.

Blackburn, whose team motto is arte et labore, won the Premiership title in 1995, shocking their hated local rivals Manchester United. United had won the EPL the previous two season (the first two of the League’s existence) and would win the next two as well. Since 1995, Blackburn has generally been a mid-table club, although they were relegated in 1999 and forced to toil in the second-tier league for two seasons.

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