G20 terror plot foiled! Or, How The Police Justify Their Existence With Loud Headlines Now (Quiet Apologies Later)

* Please note that I am updating this post with all the news stories on it as I spot them. I am trying to make sure that there is a record of all versions, so please excuse lengthy cut-and-pasting. This is because journalists often revise their articles over the top of previous versions rather than start on a fresh page. ‘ETA’ means ‘Edited To Add’, in case you wondered.*

Smells like a crock of shit. Expect it to be spread liberally.

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Guardian: Five Britons arrested over G20 explosives stunt plan

Five Britons have been arrested in connection with a suspected plot to use explosives to disrupt the G20 summit.

The individuals, who are political activists unaffiliated to any terrorist organisation, were arrested at addresses in Plymouth. They are being held under terrorism legislation.

Despite the involvement of explosives, a police source with knowledge of the investigation has told the Guardian that initial inquiries indicate the five were “not planning a Guy Fawkes plot”.

“I think it was more designed to disrupt than injure or kill,” the source said, adding that reports that the individuals were Greek nationals were false.It is understood that the quantity and type of material found at the addresses indicates a small-scale stunt.

Scotland Yard has issued a series of warnings in recent days that protesters are planning to bring the capital to a standstill this week in potentially violent protests scheduled to coincide with the arrival of world leaders for the summit, in east London.

In a statement, Devon and Cornwall police confirmed five people were being held for offences under the Terrorism Act.

They are three men, aged 25, 19 and 16, and two women, both aged 20, all of whom live in Plymouth adn the surrounding area. Police said they were arrested between Friday, March 27 and Sunday, March 29.

The arrests were made after the 25-year-old man was held in Plymouth during the evening of Friday, March 27, on suspicion of criminal damage.

Police searched the man’s address and found three other people at the premises who were arrested for drugs offences.

As the search progressed officers found a number of weapons and suspected imitation weapons as well material relating to political ideology. Also found were suspicious devices that were seized and submitted for forensic examination.

Following investigations on Sunday, March 29, a 19-year-old man was arrested and all five are now detained under the Terrorism Act. Searches of addresses were carried out during the weekend in the Plymouth area and further searches are being considered.

Police said they will be applying for a warrants of further detention this afternoon, Monday, March 30.

Police stressed that inquiries indicated there were no religious agenda to the investigation, and that those involved were political activists. However they are not believed to have posed a large-scale threat and, police said, are not believed to be part of a national or larger operation.

Gold Commander Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Taylor said: “I would reassure local people and residents of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, that they are not at any risk and these arrests would appear to be isolated at this time.Those arrested people will remain in custody while further enquiries take place.”

The Guardian (12:51pm)

ETA: The Guardian has amended the last four paragraphs. Compare and contrast the original (above) with the new version (below):

After investigations on Sunday, a 19-year-old man was arrested. Other addresses were searched during the weekend in the Plymouth area and further searches are being considered.

Police said they would be applying for a warrants of further detention this afternoon.

Police stressed that inquiries indicated there was no religious agenda to the investigation, and that those involved were political activists. They are not believed to be part of a national or larger operation.

Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Taylor said: “I would reassure local people and residents of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly that they are not at any risk, and these arrests would appear to be isolated at this time. Those arrested people will remain in custody while further inquiries take place.”

The Guardian (version noted approximately 1:45pm)

ETA: Changes to the original Guardian story include appending the following to paragraph four: “Unconfirmed reports said the individuals may have had “flares” in their posession”; and the following to paragraph five: “So far, however, protests associated with the summit have been peaceful.”

The story is then reworked from paragraph six thus:

In a statement, Devon and Cornwall police confirmed five people were being held for offences under the Terrorism Act. The three men, aged 25, 19 and 16, and two women, both aged 20, all live in Plymouth and the surrounding area. Police said they were arrested between Friday and Sunday.

The arrests were made after the 25-year-old man was held in Plymouth during Friday evening on suspicion of criminal damage.

Police searched the man’s address and found three other people at the premises. They were arrested for drugs offences.

The statement said: “As the search progressed officers found a number of weapons and suspected imitation weapons as well material relating to political ideology. Also found were suspicious devices that were seized and submitted for forensic examination.”

After investigations on Sunday, a 19-year-old man was arrested. Other addresses were searched during the weekend in the Plymouth area and further searches are being considered.

Police said they would be applying for warrants of further detention this afternoon.

Police stressed that inquiries indicated there was no religious agenda to the investigation, and that those involved were political activists. They are not believed to be part of a national or larger operation.

Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Taylor said: “I would reassure local people and residents of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly that they are not at any risk, and these arrests would appear to be isolated at this time. Those arrested people will remain in custody while further inquiries take place.”

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The Met has been in liaison with Devon and Cornwall police regarding their ongoing investigation into five people arrested over the weekend.

“We would stress that the investigation is at a very early stage and that speculation regarding the capability, intention or motivation of those arrested is unhelpful. At the current time we have no information to suggest a change to the threat picture facing either the demonstrations or G20.”

The Guardian (changes noted approximately 2:55pm)

ETA:

Another Guardian revision – changes include the detail about the initial Greek claim, and ‘no comment’ on what the graffiti said.

Guardian: Five held over suspected plot to disrupt G20 summit with explosives stunt

Five people have been arrested in connection with a suspected plot to use amateur explosives to disrupt the G20 summit.

The three men, aged 25, 19 and 16, and two women, both aged 20, all live in Plymouth and the surrounding area. They are political activists unaffiliated to any terrorist organisation, and were arrested at addresses in Plymouth. They are being held under terrorism legislation. The explosive devices were made from fireworks, police said.

A police source told the Guardian that initial inquiries indicate the five were “not planning a Guy Fawkes plot.

“I think it was more designed to disrupt than injure or kill,” the source said, adding that reports that the individuals were Greek nationals were false. It is understood that the “suspicious devices” found suggest a small-scale stunt.

Scotland Yard has issued a series of warnings in recent days that protesters are planning to bring the capital to a standstill this week in potentially violent protests scheduled to coincide with the arrival of world leaders for the summit, in east London. So far, however, protests associated with the summit have been peaceful.

At a press conference at Crownhill police station in Plymouth, Paul Netherton, assistant chief constable of Devon and Cornwall, said the investigation was sparked when the 25-year-old man was arrested for spraypainting on a wall in Plymouth city centre. He would not comment on the nature of the graffiti.

Police searched the man’s flat in Plymouth, and found imitation firearms, improvised explosives made of fireworks, and material related to political ideology.

Netherton confirmed that one of the arrested people was an international student but would not comment on where that suspect studied. The remaining four are all British nationals.

Asked about the potential scale of damage that could be caused by the weapons and devices discovered, Netherton said: “These are imitation firearms, the other devices were made of simple fireworks – they’re probably not lethal. But I can’t comment. Fireworks do have an explosive component to them but of a minor nature.”

Devon and Cornwall police said the five, who were arrested between Friday and Sunday, were being held for offences under the Terrorism Act.

A police statement said: “As the search progressed officers found a number of weapons and suspected imitation weapons as well as material relating to political ideology. Also found were suspicious devices that were seized and submitted for forensic examination.”

After investigations on Sunday, a 19-year-old man was arrested. Other addresses were searched during the weekend in the Plymouth area and further searches are being considered. Police said they would be applying for warrants of further detention this afternoon.

Police stressed that inquiries indicated there was no religious agenda to the investigation, and that those involved were political activists. They are not believed to be part of a national or larger operation.

Assistant chief constable Sharon Taylor said: “I would reassure local people and residents of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly that they are not at any risk, and these arrests would appear to be isolated at this time. Those arrested people will remain in custody while further inquiries take place.”

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The Met has been in liaison with Devon and Cornwall police regarding their ongoing investigation into five people arrested over the weekend. We would stress that the investigation is at a very early stage and that speculation regarding the capability, intention or motivation of those arrested is unhelpful. At the current time we have no information to suggest a change to the threat picture facing either the demonstrations or G20.”

The Guardian (revision noted at approximately 4:25pm)

ETA: Another (minor) Guardian revision, I think the only alteration is mentioning ‘Kalashnikov’, but I’m busy at the moment so will have to return to this:

Guardian: Five held over suspected plot to disrupt G20 summit with explosives stunt

Five people have been arrested in connection with a suspected plot to use explosives made from fireworks to disrupt the G20 summit.

The three men, aged 25, 19 and 16, and two women, both 20, all live in Plymouth and the surrounding area. They are political activists unaffiliated to any terrorist organisation, and were arrested at addresses in Plymouth. They are being held under terrorism legislation. The explosive devices were made from simple fireworks, police said.

Paul Netherton, Devon and Cornwall assistant chief constable, said imitation handguns and an imitation Kalashnikov, as well as devices made from fireworks, had been seized. The deactivated weapons were “not major” and “probably not even lethal”.

Officers said they were investigating the possibility the group planned to attend the G20 summit, which they described as an “obvious line of inquiry”.

A police source told the Guardian that initial inquiries indicate the five were “not planning a Guy Fawkes plot”. “I think it was more designed to disrupt than injure or kill,” the source said.

Scotland Yard has issued warnings in recent days that protesters are planning to bring the capital to a standstill this week in potentially violent protests scheduled to coincide with the arrival of world leaders for the summit. So far, however, protests associated with the summit have been peaceful.

Netherton said the investigation was sparked when the 25-year-old man was arrested for spray-painting on a wall in Plymouth city centre. He would not comment on the nature of the graffiti.

Police searched the man’s flat in Plymouth, and found imitation firearms, improvised explosives made of fireworks, and “material related to political ideology”.

Asked to clarify the nature of the material, Netherton said: “It’s political, it relates to political organisations, it’s not extreme but it’s a different political view. It leads to motives and things like that.”

He confirmed that one of the arrested people was an international student but would not comment on where that suspect studied. The remaining four are all British nationals.

Asked about the potential scale of damage that could be caused by the weapons and devices discovered, Netherton said: “These are imitation firearms, the other devices were made of simple fireworks – they’re probably not lethal. But I can’t comment. Fireworks do have an explosive component to them but of a minor nature.”

Devon and Cornwall police said the five, who were arrested between Friday and Sunday, were being held for offences under the Terrorism Act.

A police statement said: “As the search progressed officers found a number of weapons and suspected imitation weapons as well as material relating to political ideology. Also found were suspicious devices that were seized and submitted for forensic examination.”

After investigations on Sunday, a 19-year-old man was arrested. Other addresses were searched during the weekend in the Plymouth area and further searches are being considered. Police said they would be applying for warrants of further detention this afternoon.

Police stressed that inquiries indicated there was no religious element to the investigation, and that those involved were political activists. They are not believed to be part of a national or larger operation.

Assistant chief constable Sharon Taylor said: “I would reassure local people and residents of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly that they are not at any risk, and these arrests would appear to be isolated at this time. Those arrested people will remain in custody while further inquiries take place.”

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The Met has been in liaison with Devon and Cornwall police regarding their ongoing investigation into five people arrested over the weekend. We would stress that the investigation is at a very early stage and that speculation regarding the capability, intention or motivation of those arrested is unhelpful. At the current time we have no information to suggest a change to the threat picture facing either the demonstrations or G20.”

The Guardian (timestamp 5:39, logged at approximately 6:30pm)

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Telegraph: ‘G20 terror plot’ uncovered by police

Three men and two women, who were held by armed police in and around Plymouth, thought to be all British, are said to have been discovered with imitation firearms and what is thought to be a flare-gun. Suspected extremist material was also found.

But police have played down the suggestion that there may have been a plot to cause death or injuries, suggesting instead that the firearms which were allegedly seized were intended to cause “disruption”.

All five are being detained at a secure police station in Cornwall.

One source said: “The people have been held under Anti Terror laws and are being held at a police station in Cornwall.

“My information is that firearms have been found and political ‘manuals’.

“It appears these people and their arrests are connected to the G20 summit in London this week.

“The initial arrests of four of them appear to have been pure chance and then a fourth individual was held by police this morning.” A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police confirmed arrests have been made.

A formal statement is expected to be released later today about the arrests.

A police source said: “Three men and two women are being held.

“Items have been seized which would come under the Explosives Act.

“It would seem they were in possession of material which would not have the potential for causing injury so much as disruption.”

Thursday’s G20 summit, to be held at the ExCeL arena in London’s Docklands, has been described by Scotland Yard as the capital’s most challenging police operation in a decade.

More than 3,000 police officers will be on duty when the leaders of the world’s 20 richest countries, including President Obama, descend on London, with up to 100,000 protestors expected to stage rallies and marches during the week.

Police fear the rallies will be hijacked by anarchists intent on sparking violence and riots, with thousands of hardline protesterrs expected to fly in from abroad.

Daily Telegraph (1:03pm)

ETA:

Telegraph: G20 summit ‘terror plot’ uncovered

Police have discovered “suspicious devices” along with imitation firearms and a number of other weapons.

Three men aged 25, 19, and 16 and two women aged 20, who all live in Plymouth or the surrounding area, were arrested between Friday and Sunday, police said.

The arrests were made after the 25-year-old man was detained in Plymouth on Friday evening on suspicion of criminal damage.

Police searched the man’s address and found three other people at the premises who were arrested for drugs offences following the search.

“As the search progressed officers found a number of weapons and suspected imitation weapons as well material relating to political ideology,” a spokesman said.

Police also found “suspicious devices” that were seized and submitted for forensic examination.

Another 19-year-old man was arrested on Sunday following further inquiries and police searched a number of other addresses.

The spokesman said there was no suggestion of Islamic extremists being involved and added: “Those arrested are not believed, at this stage, to be part of a national or larger operation.”

A police source said: “At this time this enquiry would appear to be regarding political activity involving British nationals.”

Police have played down the suggestion that there may have been a plot to cause death or injuries, suggesting instead that the explosives which were allegedly seized were intended to cause “disruption”.

All four are being detained at a secure police station in Cornwall.

One source said: “The people being held under Anti-Terror laws and are being held at a police station in Cornwall.

“My information is that bomb making equipment has been found and possibly manuals.

“It appears these people and their arrests are connected to the G20 summit in London this week.”

A police source said: “Items have been seized which would come under the Explosives Act rather than bomb making equipment.

“It would seem they were in possession of material which would not have the potential for causing injury so much as disruption.”

Devon and Cornwall Police’s Gold Commander Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Taylor said: “I would reassure local people and residents of Devon, Cornwall, that they are not at any risk and these arrests would appear to be isolated at this time.

“Those arrested people will remain in custody while further enquiries take place.”

Thursday’s G20 summit, to be held at the ExCeL arena in London’s Docklands, has been described by Scotland Yard as the capital’s most challenging police operation in a decade.

More than 3,000 police officers will be on duty when the leaders of the world’s 20 richest countries, including President Obama, descend on London, with up to 100,000 protestors expected to stage rallies and marches during the week.

Police fear the rallies will be hijacked by anarchists intent on sparking violence and riots, with thousands of hardline protestors expected to fly in from abroad.

Daily Telegraph (1:43pm version)

ETA: Another Telegraph revision:

G20 summit ‘terror plot’ uncovered

Police have discovered “suspicious devices” along with imitation firearms and a number of other weapons.

Three men aged 25, 19, and 16 and two women aged 20, who all live in Plymouth or the surrounding area, were arrested between Friday and Sunday, police said.

The arrests were made after the 25-year-old man was detained in Plymouth on Friday evening on suspicion of criminal damage.

Police searched the man’s address and found three other people at the premises who were arrested for drugs offences following the search.

“As the search progressed officers found a number of weapons and suspected imitation weapons as well material relating to political ideology,” a spokesman said.

Police also found “suspicious devices” that were seized and submitted for forensic examination.

Another 19-year-old man was arrested on Sunday following further inquiries and police searched a number of other addresses.

The spokesman said there was no suggestion of Islamic extremists being involved and added: “Those arrested are not believed, at this stage, to be part of a national or larger operation.”

A police source said: “At this time this enquiry would appear to be regarding political activity involving British nationals.”

Police have played down the suggestion that there may have been a plot to cause death or injuries, suggesting instead that the explosives which were allegedly seized were intended to cause “disruption”.

All four are being detained at a secure police station in Cornwall.

One source said: “The people being held under Anti-Terror laws and are being held at a police station in Cornwall.

“My information is that bomb making equipment has been found and possibly manuals.

“It appears these people and their arrests are connected to the G20 summit in London this week.”

A police source said: “Items have been seized which would come under the Explosives Act rather than bomb making equipment.

“It would seem they were in possession of material which would not have the potential for causing injury so much as disruption.”

Devon and Cornwall Police’s Gold Commander Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Taylor said: “I would reassure local people and residents of Devon, Cornwall, that they are not at any risk and these arrests would appear to be isolated at this time.

“Those arrested people will remain in custody while further enquiries take place.”

Thursday’s G20 summit, to be held at the ExCeL arena in London’s Docklands, has been described by Scotland Yard as the capital’s most challenging police operation in a decade.

More than 3,000 police officers will be on duty when the leaders of the world’s 20 richest countries, including President Obama, descend on London, with up to 100,000 protestors expected to stage rallies and marches during the week.

Police fear the rallies will be hijacked by anarchists intent on sparking violence and riots, with thousands of hardline protestors expected to fly in from abroad.

The Metropolitan Police said it was liaising with Devon and Cornwall and added: “At the current time we have no information to suggest a change to the threat picture facing either the demonstrations or G20.

“We have said that we are seeing an unprecedented level of activity amongst protest groups not seen since the late 1990s, involving some individuals we have not seen on the protest circuit for some time. “However, while these individuals are talking about what they would like to happen, we are unsure of how much of this is achievable or simply aspiration.

A spokesman added: “We would stress that the investigation is at a very early stage and that speculation regarding the capability, intention or motivation of those arrested is unhelpful.”

Daily Telegraph (2:40pm timestamp, noted at approximately 3:25pm)

ETA: Another Telegraph revision, the first to suggest (however obliquely) that those held are anarchists or anti-capitalists:

Telegraph: G20 ‘terrorist plot’ uncovered by police

Police said they had discovered an amount of political material that is thought to relate to anti-capitalist protests planned to disrupt the meeting of world leaders this week.

Five people, all of whom live in Plymouth, Devon and the surrounding area, have been arrested under the Terrorism Act and are being held at a police station in Cornwall.

A police spokesman said there was no suggestion of Islamic extremists being involved and added: “Those arrested are not believed, at this stage, to be part of a national or larger operation.”

Officers found a range of imitation and deactivated firearms from handguns to long barrelled rifles and a Kalashnikov-style assault rifle, police said.

They also found “suspicious devices,” described as “improvised explosives made of fireworks,” that were seized and submitted for forensic examination.

The discoveries followed a number of raids in Plymouth after a 25-year-old man was caught spraying graffiti slogans in the city centre on Friday night.

Police searched the man’s address and found three other people, a 16-year-old youth and two women aged 20, at the premises who were arrested for drugs offences following the search.

“As the search progressed officers found a number of weapons and suspected imitation weapons as well material relating to political ideology,” a spokesman said.

Another, 19-year-old man was arrested on Sunday following further inquiries and police searched a number of other addresses.

One of those arrested was said to be an international student and the other four are British nationals. Police were granted more time to question them on Monday afternoon.

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Netherton of Devon and Cornwall Police said the suspicious devices were “made of simple fireworks” but were probably not lethal.

He added: “Obviously people are going to make a connection to the G20 and we are looking into that as part of our investigation.

“Use of the Terrorism Act is a serious step and not taken lightly. But the items we found justified its use.”

The Metropolitan Police said it was liaising with the Devon and Cornwall force and added: “At the current time we have no information to suggest a change to the threat picture facing either the demonstrations or G20.

“We have said that we are seeing an unprecedented level of activity among protest groups not seen since the late 1990s, involving some individuals we have not seen on the protest circuit for some time.”

A spokesman added: “We would stress that the investigation is at a very early stage and that speculation regarding the capability, intention or motivation of those arrested is unhelpful.”

Devon and Cornwall Police’s Gold Commander Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Taylor said: “I would reassure local people and residents of Devon, Cornwall, that they are not at any risk and these arrests would appear to be isolated at this time.

The G20 summit, to be held at the ExCeL arena in London’s Docklands on Thursday, has been described by Scotland Yard as the capital’s most challenging police operation in a decade.

More than 3,000 police officers will be on duty when the leaders of the world’s 20 richest countries, including President Obama, descend on London, with up to 100,000 protesters expected to stage rallies and marches during the week.

Police fear the rallies will be hijacked by anarchists intent on sparking violence and riots, with thousands of hardline protesters expected to fly in from abroad.

Daily Telegraph (timestamp 5:33pm, logged at approximately 6:30pm)

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Times: Four arrested ahead of G20 protest in London

Four people arrested in the West Country in possession of “explosive material” today are believed to have been planning to disrupt the G20 summit.

The four were being questioned at a police station in Cornwall. An unofficial police source said they had been in possession of flares and other material.

He added: “Items have been seized which would come under the Explosives Act rather than bomb-making equipment”. It would seem they were in possession of material which would not have the potential for causing injury so much as disruption.”

The two men and two women were arrested by “pure chance”. Police have not confirmed where they were picked up by the inquiry is believed to centre on Plymouth.

Another well-placed source, who asked not to be named, said: “They have been held under the anti-terror laws and are being held at a police station in Cornwall.

“It appears these people and their arrests are connected to the G20 summit in London this week. The initial arrests of three of them appear to have been pure chance and then a fourth individual was held by police this morning.”

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police confirmed arrests have been made and said an official statement would be released shortly.

Scotland Yard confirmed that it had been informed of the arrests and was monitoring the situation in advance of expected street demonstrations this week. A source said: “We are aware of some activity.”

The Times (no timecode, accessed approximately 1:15pm)

ETA: The Times story has been amended. The changes include updating the number of arrests from four to five; the insertion of the bit about old hands returning to the streets (ie RTS and WOMBLES etc, though unnamed); the mention of failed Exeter Giraffe restaurant suicide bomber Nicky Reilly (“no connection”); comment from D&C top copper Sharon Taylor; and an expanded quotation from the Met. The amended report replaces the earlier story at the same URL, and reads:

Times: Five arrested ahead of G20 protest in London

Five people have been arrested under the Terrorism Act after the discovery of weapons and “suspicious devices” at a flat in Plymouth.

Police today refused to comments on claims that they were intended for protests at the G20 summit in London. However, they confirmed that as well as evidence of drugs offences officers had seized “real and imitation weapons” and “material relating to political ideology”.

Devon and Cornwall Police stressed that the investigation was not linked to any religious group and that all five people arrested are British nationals.

Their statement said: “Three men aged 25 years, 19 years and 16 years, and two women aged 20 years, who all live in Plymouth or the surrounding area, were arrested between Friday, March 27 and Sunday, March 29.”

They were detained after the 25-year-old man was arrested in Plymouth on Friday evening on suspicion of criminal damage.

The statement added: “Police carried out a search of the man’s address and found three other persons at the premises who were arrested for drugs offences following the search.

As the search progressed, officers found a number of weapons and suspected imitation weapons as well material relating to political ideology.

“Also found were suspicious devices that were seized and submitted for forensic examination.”

Devon and Cornwall Police added: “Police are keen to stress that enquiries indicate there is no religious agenda to the investigation. The incident has no connection with the recent conviction of Nicky Reilly and those arrested are not believed, at this stage, to be part of a national or larger operation.

Gold Commander Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Taylor said: “I would reassure local people and residents of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, that they are not at any risk and these arrests would appear to be isolated at this time.

“Those arrested people will remain in custody while further enquiries take place.”

An unofficial police source said it was believed the suspects may have been involved in protests planned for the G20 summit in London this week. The source added: “Items have been seized which would come under the Explosives Act rather than bomb-making equipment.

“It would seem they were in possession of material which would not have the potential for causing injury so much as disruption.”

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The Met has been in liaison with Devon and Cornwall Police regarding their ongoing investigation into five people arrested over the weekend.

“We would stress that the investigation is at a very early stage and that speculation regarding the capability, intention or motivation of those arrested is unhelpful. At the current time we have no information to suggest a change to the threat picture facing either the demonstrations or G20.”

The spokesman added that police were seeing “an unprecedented level of activity amongst protest groups not seen since the late 1990s, involving some individuals we have not seen on the protest circuit for some time”.

“However, while these individuals are talking about what they would like to happen, we are unsure of how much of this is achievable or simply aspiration. The MPS has a duty to have a policing operation in place to be able to respond to any eventuality. Not to do so would be to neglect our duty to Londoners. The MPS is very experienced in policing protests and public order situations and always seeks to facilitate lawful demonstration.”

The Times (no timecode, accessed approximately 2:10pm)

ETA: The Times story has been amended (approximately 2:55pm) to change the headline to “Five arrested ahead of G20 protest in London” – no other changes spotted.

ETA: Another Times revision. This one appears to be the first to mention the nature of the graffiti (Antifa) and the political persuasion of those held (anarchist and anti-capitalist):

Times: Five arrested ahead of G20 protest in London

Five people suspected of planning to disrupt the G20 summit have been arrested under the Terrorism Act after police seized imitation weapons and home-made explosive devices.

The five, all from the Plymouth area, appeared in court today. They can be held for up to 28 days for questioning.

Those arrested include a 16-year-old boy and two women aged 20, who were held after a police raid on the home of a man arrested for spraying graffiti on a wall in Plymouth city centre on Friday night.

The 25-year-old man was caught spraying “Antifa” on a wall, police said. Antifa – short for anti-facist – is a group that campaigns against racism and the far Right.

Officers seized imitation weapons including a replica AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle and a number of explosive devices made from fireworks.

They also seized “political literature” believed to include anarchist and anti-capitalist publications.

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Netherton told a press conference: “We arrested a man on Friday for spraying graffiti on a wall and during a subsequent search of an address a number of devices were found.

“Also found was literature relating to political ideology. Quite obviously, people are going to make a connection to the G20 and we are looking into that as part of our investigation.

“Use of the Terrorism Act is a serious step and not taken lightly, but the items we found justified its use. We found a range of imitation firearms, from handguns to long-barrelled rifles and a Kalashnikov-style rifle, but they had been disabled and could not be used with live ammunition.

“The devices were made out of fireworks and had explosive component to them. They have adapted some fireworks. They are probably not even lethal. We would like to stress this was not linked to religious extremism.”

The five were taken to Plymouth Magistrates’ Court this afternoon where police applied for warrants for their further detention. The hearings took place in private and no information was released. Police have not disclosed any names although one of those detained is believed to be an international student of Greek origin.

Officers stressed that the arrests had no links to religious extremism and there was no connection to Nicky Reilly, the Muslim convert from Plymouth who was jailed earlier this year for attempting to set off a bomb in an Exeter restaurant.

In a statement, Devon and Cornwall Police added that those arrested were not believed to be part of a national or larger operation.

Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Taylor said: “I would reassure local people and residents of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, that they are not at any risk and these arrests would appear to be isolated at this time.”

The Times (no timestamp, revision logged approximately 6:25pm)
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BBC: Weapons seized in terror arrests

Five people have been arrested in Devon on suspicion of terrorism offences.

Three men aged 25, 19 and 16 and two women aged 20, who all live in Plymouth or the surrounding area, were arrested between 27 and 29 March.

A number of weapons and suspected imitation weapons, as well as “suspicious devices”, were seized in searches a number of premises.

Police said those arrested are not believed, at this stage, to be part of a national or larger operation.

All five are being held under the Terrorism Act.

The arrests were made after the 25-year-old man was arrested in Plymouth on the evening of 27 March on suspicion of criminal damage.

Police carried out a search of the man’s address and the weapons and “material relating to political ideology” were seized.

A police spokesman stressed that the investigation was “in no way” linked to any religious group.

He added the inquiry was centred on political activity involving British nationals.

BBC (1:20pm)

BBC: Terror probe uncovers ‘fake guns’

An imitation Kalashnikov rifle and fireworks have been seized by police investigating alleged terrorism in connection with the G20 summit.

Three men aged 25, 19 and 16 and two women of 20, from the Plymouth area in Devon, were held after the 25 year old was seen allegedly spraying graffiti.

A number of imitation weapons were seized in searches of several premises.

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Netherton said the weapons were “not major” and “probably not even lethal”.

The arrests were an “isolated incident” and local people were not at risk. The arrested people have not been linked to any religious group.

ACC Netherton said the weapons included imitation handguns and a Kalashnikov, as well as fireworks. No ammunition for the guns was found.

Detectives are investigating the possibility those arrested were planning to mount protests in London against the G20 summit of world leaders.

All five people are being held under the Terrorism Act.

The arrests were made after the 25-year-old man was arrested in Plymouth on the evening of 27 March for allegedly spraying graffiti on a wall.

ACC Netherton said: “He was arrested and then the officer went back to this man’s house and carried out a search.

“When he was searching the house he came across imitation firearms and also some devices which had basically been made from fireworks.

“And also he found some politically sensitive material and things like that.”

He said the operation has no connection to failed suicide bomber Nicky Reilly, 22, who was jailed for 18 years earlier this year.

The Muslim convert, who lived with his mother in Plymouth, attempted a nail bomb attack on a restaurant in Exeter.

BBC (3:31pm, accessed approximately 3:55pm)

===================================================================

Devon & Cornwall Police News Release: Plymouth Arrests – Terrorism Act

Devon and Cornwall Police are currently detaining five people for offences under the Terrorism Act.

Three men aged 25yrs, 19 years and 16 years and two women aged 20 years, who all live in Plymouth or the surrounding area, were arrested between Friday, March 27 and Sunday, March 29.

The arrests were made after the 25-year-old man was arrested in Plymouth during the evening of Friday, March 27, on suspicion of criminal damage.

Police carried out a search of the man’s address and found three other persons at the premises who were arrested for drugs offences following the search.

As the search progressed officers found a number of weapons and suspected imitation weapons as well material relating to political ideology.

Also found were suspicious devices that were seized and submitted for forensic examination.

Following investigations on Sunday, March 29, a 19-year-old man was arrested and all five are now detained under the Terrorism Act.

Searches of addresses were carried out during the weekend in the Plymouth area and further searches are being considered.

As a result, police will be applying for a warrants of further detention this afternoon, Monday, March 30.

Police are keen to stress that enquiries indicate there is no religious agenda to the investigation. The incident has no connection with the recent conviction of Nicky Reilly and those arrested are not believed, at this stage, to be part of a national or larger operation.

Gold Commander Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Taylor said: “I would reassure local people and residents of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, that they are not at any risk and these arrests would appear to be isolated at this time.

“Those arrested people will remain in custody while further enquiries take place.”

Devon & Cornwall Police (1:28pm)

===================================================================

Independent (Press Association): Terror probe five ‘could have targeted G20’

Five people arrested under counter-terrorism powers may have planned to disrupt the G20 Summit, sources said today.

Police swooped on a series of homes in Plymouth after officers uncovered a cache of weapons, suspicious devices and suspected extremist material during a search.

The three men and two women were held under the Terrorism Act over the last three days, Devon and Cornwall Police said.

They were being questioned over claims they planned to target the meeting of the world’s most powerful political leaders in London later this week.

Scotland Yard officers are liaising with investigators in south west England over the suspected plot.

One source said the group are political activists who may have aspired to disrupt the G20 summit but not to injure or kill.

It is understood search teams have found a small number of suspicious devices that indicate any action would have been on a small scale.

Officers in Plymouth uncovered a cache of weapons, suspicious devices and suspected extremist material after arresting a man on suspicion of criminal damage.

The devices have been sent for further forensic examination and police have not ruled out further searches as the net widens.

Police said the investigation is not linked to any particular religious group and centres around “political activity involving British nationals”.

Scotland Yard has issued warnings that protesters are planning to bring the City of London to a standstill with high-profile protests this week.

The G20 summit, to be held at the Excel arena in London’s Docklands, has been described by senior officers as the capital’s most challenging police operation for a decade.

Several thousand officers will be on duty when the leaders of the world’s 20 richest countries, including US President Barack Obama, descend on the capital.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “We would stress that the investigation is at a very early stage and that speculation regarding the capability, intention or motivation of those arrested is unhelpful.

“At the current time we have no information to suggest a change to the threat picture facing either the demonstrations or G20.

“The Metropolitan Police has said that we are seeing an unprecedented level of activity amongst protest groups not seen since the late 1990s, involving some individuals we have not seen on the protest circuit for some time.

“However, while these individuals are talking about what they would like to happen, we are unsure of how much of this is achievable or simply aspiration.

“The Metropolitan Police has a duty to have a policing operation in place to be able to respond to any eventuality. Not to do so would be to neglect our duty to Londoners.

“The Metropolitan Police is very experienced in policing protests and public order situations and always seeks to facilitate lawful demonstration.”

The Independent (no timecode, accessed approximately 2:30pm)

ETA: Another Indie/Press Association revision.

Independent (Press Association): Terror probe five ‘could have targeted G20’

Five people arrested under counter-terrorism powers may have planned to disrupt the G20 Summit, sources said today.

Police swooped on a series of homes in Plymouth after officers uncovered a cache of weapons, suspicious devices and suspected extremist material during a search.

The three men and two women were held under the Terrorism Act over the last three days, Devon and Cornwall Police said.

They were being questioned over claims they planned to target the meeting of the world’s most powerful political leaders in London later this week.

Scotland Yard officers are liaising with investigators in south west England over the suspected plot.

One source said the group are political activists who may have aspired to disrupt the G20 summit but not to injure or kill.

It is understood search teams have found a small number of suspicious devices that indicate any action would have been on a small scale.

Officers in Plymouth uncovered a cache of weapons, suspicious devices and suspected extremist material after arresting a man on suspicion of criminal damage.

The devices have been sent for further forensic examination and police have not ruled out further searches as the net widens.

Police said the investigation is not linked to any particular religious group and centres around “political activity involving British nationals”.

Scotland Yard has issued warnings that protesters are planning to bring the City of London to a standstill with high-profile protests this week.

The G20 summit, to be held at the Excel arena in London’s Docklands, has been described by senior officers as the capital’s most challenging police operation for a decade.

Several thousand officers will be on duty when the leaders of the world’s 20 richest countries, including US President Barack Obama, descend on the capital.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “We would stress that the investigation is at a very early stage and that speculation regarding the capability, intention or motivation of those arrested is unhelpful.

“At the current time we have no information to suggest a change to the threat picture facing either the demonstrations or G20.

“The Metropolitan Police has said that we are seeing an unprecedented level of activity amongst protest groups not seen since the late 1990s, involving some individuals we have not seen on the protest circuit for some time.

“However, while these individuals are talking about what they would like to happen, we are unsure of how much of this is achievable or simply aspiration.

“The Metropolitan Police has a duty to have a policing operation in place to be able to respond to any eventuality. Not to do so would be to neglect our duty to Londoners.

“The Metropolitan Police is very experienced in policing protests and public order situations and always seeks to facilitate lawful demonstration.”

The Independent (revision noted at approximately 3:25pm)

My posts on G20:

Monday 30th March

Tuesday 31st March

Thursday 2nd April

Friday 3rd April

Sunday 5th April

Tuesday 7th April

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15 responses to “G20 terror plot foiled! Or, How The Police Justify Their Existence With Loud Headlines Now (Quiet Apologies Later)

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