THE STORIES BEHIND THE HEADLINES

Abu Dhabi

London

New York

Tuesday 20th March 2018

A Hezbollah Explosives Stockpile in London Raises Concerns About Iran's Plans in Europe

Counterterrorism & Security

Ahmed Fathi

Tue, 11 Jun 2019 07:58 GMT

Extremists linked to Iran-backed Hezbollah stockpiled bomb-making elements in London in 2015, in a case that was "hidden from the public", for nearly four years.

The security forces managed to thwart what it described as a "conspiracy" through a secret intelligence operation, the Telegraph reported through unnamed sources. 

The report revealed that the British security forces seized a secret warehouse where tons of explosives were stored on the outskirts of London and arrested those they said were terrorists linked to Iran, the newspaper said.

Hezbollah extremists had hidden thousands of ammonium nitrate containers, used as part of the preparation for homemade bombs, only months after the United Kingdom signed the Iranian nuclear deal. The newspaper described the authorities' findings as "horrific".

The operation, carried out in 2015, resulted in the seizure of 3 metric tons of ammonium nitrate, more than the Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people and damaged hundreds of buildings. 

The Telegraph reported that British police raided four properties in north-western London; 3 companies and a house. During the security campaign, they arrested a man in his forties on suspicion of planning a "terrorist" event but he was later released without charge. 

The newspaper’s opinion is that the authorities hid the subject in order to keep the Iranian nuclear deal alive, revealing that the then prime minister of Britain was not Teresa May but David Cameron. Theresa May was in charge of the Home Office. 

The agents of the anti-terrorism unit of the Metropolitan Police launched a secret operation in an attempt to learn more about the operation, after receiving information from foreign sources. "This operation was to uncover the Iranian conspiracy against the European capital, using elements of the terrorist militia Hezbollah," the source told the newspaper. 

The terrorists had taken over as a cover a factory making ice packs used for medical purposes. At first glance, they may look harmless, but once the packaging is folded, its internal content reacts, turning into a very cold substance, the newspaper reported.

The security services noted that the factory did not dispose of the open packages; it collected them and removed ammonium nitrate from them. 

Furthermore, British security services said they were aware of the danger of ammonium nitrate, used to kill 168 people in Oklahoma City in 1995 and 202 in Bali in 2002. 

The Telegraph says British intelligence took a long time to come to a decision because it wanted to get a clearer picture of whether Iran and Hezbollah were involved in the explosives factory. 

It added that then Prime Minister David Cameron and Interior Minister Teresa May were informed, but MPs who were discussing the ban on Hezbollah in Britain were not informed.

The results of the British intelligence investigation revealed a close relationship between Iran and the dubious elements through the mediator (Hezbollah). The elements that had not yet been identified continued to be targeted for terrorist attacks.

In January 2018, the British government passed a law classifying the Hezbollah militia, with all its branches, as a terrorist organisation, in the presence of the Minister of Security, a representative of the government's position, who did not explicitly refer to the plot. "The aim of the law is to support the UK's efforts to disrupt those who practice terrorism," he said. 

The discovery of this stockpile in London brings to the fore the attacks in Europe in recent years, which have taken place without any claim of responsibility. Governments are concerned about possible future attacks. 


Europe