- The Washington Times - Friday, April 15, 2016

British police arrested four people Thursday night and another Friday morning in a counterterrorism sweep that authorities said was connected to the Brussels and Paris attacks carried out by the Islamic State.

The arrests in Birmingham and at London’s Gatwick Airport followed a joint investigation between Britain’s MI5 security service and authorities from Brussels and France.

While authorities were also searching several properties in Birmingham on Friday, they said there was no information to suggest an attack on Britain was imminent or being planned.

Security concerns have been heightened in the nation recently amid reports that Belgium and Paris attack suspects Mohamed Abrini and Abdelhamid Abaaoud, travelled to Birmingham last year and took photographs of potential targets in the city.

Mr. Abaaoud, a 29-year-old Belgian of Moroccan descent and the alleged planner of the Paris attacks, was killed by French police late last year. Mr. Abrini, a 31-year-old Belgian also of Moroccan descent, was arrested in Brussels last week.

Authorities have said Mr. Abrini has confessed to depositing a bomb at Brussels airport during the March 22 attacks that killed 35 people at the airport and in the metro of the Belgian capital.

He is also believed to have been involved in the Paris attacks that left 130 people dead at a soccer stadium, a concert hall, restaurants and bars last November.

The Syria- and Iraq-based Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for both of the terrorist assaults.

The Telegraph newspaper in Britain reported Friday that four people — three men aged 26, 40 and 59 and a 29-year-old woman — were arrested in Birmingham on Thursday night, while a 26-year-old man was arrested at Gatwick Airport early on Friday morning.

Chief Constable Marcus Beale from West Midlands Police said there was no information to suggest an attack in Britain was being planned, Reuters reported.

The chief added in a statement: “This action forms part of an extensive investigation by West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, together with the wider counter terrorism network, [domestic spy agency] MI5 and international partners including Belgian and French authorities to address any associated threat to the UK following the attacks in Europe.”

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