09 January 2003

Following the arrest of six men and one woman on Sunday 5 January in raids conducted by anti-terrorist police and MI5 officers on homes in north and east London (the woman was subsequently released), a further man was arrested on 8 January. All suspects are being held under the terms of the Terrorism Act 2000. The eight detainees include three or more teenagers, and with the exception of one Ethiopian, all are Algerian. At least two of the teenagers are asylum seekers who had been placed in a flat in Woods Green above a pharmacy, pending hearings on their legal status. "Traces" said to have been recovered from the Wood Green premises are reported to have tested positive for the presence of ricin poison, in analysis conducted at Porton Down, the Defence science and technology laboratories. The Guardian reports that "the inquiry was sparked by a tip-off from a foreign intelligence service several weeks before Christmas". It is interesting to note that in February 2001, Jason Burke of The Observer reported an interview with Rida Hassaine, an Algerian asylum seeker in the UK, who stated that a dirty tricks campaign was being run by the French intelligence service, the DGSE, against Algerian dissidents in London: "though it too involved burglaries of mosques and Islamic groups' premises as well as the funding of a newspaper supporting the terrorist Osama bin Laden, Hassaine was advised to help the French by his [UK] handlers".


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