Police arrest 5 in UK anti-terror raids

Five terrorists from Birmingham were arrested in the past 24 hours as part of an anti-terror investigation conducted with French and Belgian authorities.

Three men aged 26, 40 and 59, and a 29-year-old woman, were arrested in the central English city Thursday night, and a 26-year-old man was arrested at Gatwick Airport, about 50 kilometers south of central London, early Friday.

The West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit said the arrests are part of “an extensive investigation” by them, together with Belgian and French authorities, as well as Britain’s MI5 intelligence service, “to address any associated threat to the U.K. following the attacks in Europe.”

The group were arrested on “suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism,” police said in a statement. All five are being held for questioning.

There are ongoing property searches in Birmingham Friday, police added.

“The arrests were pre-planned and intelligence-led,” said Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, in charge of counter terrorism in the West Midlands region. “There was no risk to the public at any time and there is no information to suggest an attack in the U.K. was being planned.”

However, a British security source told NBC News that the arrests were “Paris and Brussels-related,” and that the main focus of the investigation was Mohamed Abrini.

Top Brussels and Paris attacks terrorist Mohamed Abrini, who was arrested in Belgium earlier this month, was spotted in Birmingham last July, according to reports.

Abrini confessed last week that he was the ‘man in the hat’ who appeared next to the two suicide bombers at Brussels airport.

The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed Western officials saying several people with connections to the Paris attacks’ suspected planner Abdelhamid Abaaoud live in the Birmingham area.