Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham terrorism threat 'remains high', police say

Irfan Khalid, Ashik Ali, Irfan Naseer
Image caption The convicted men lived in the Sparkhill and Sparkbrook areas of Birmingham

There is a "high" threat of terrorists working in Birmingham, a senior police officer in the city has said.

Three would-be suicide bombers from the city who plotted to carry out a terror attack to rival 9/11 were found guilty of terrorism charges on Thursday.

Muslim community leaders in Birmingham want to meet West Midlands Police to discuss how to stop extremism.

Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale urged anyone who knew of people being "radicalised" to come forward.

Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, were convicted of being "central figures" in the plan which was foiled after months of surveillance work by police.

The trio planned to set off up to eight bombs in rucksacks, Woolwich Crown Court heard.

'Divert evil ways'

Mr Beale said: "The threat from Birmingham remains high and very occasionally, as we've seen from this trial, we have people who aspire to commit mass murder on the streets of the UK."

He called for people to come forward with information earlier if they suspected someone of becoming radicalised or supporting an extremist cause.

But he said criticism of some communities for not sharing information earlier was not fair.

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Media captionBirmingham city councillor Ian Ward said the council has established a consultative group with other bodies

"It would be wonderful if people did come forward with concerns a little bit earlier, it would be excellent if they did.

"It's not always going to be a criminal intervention that will come from the police, there are a lot of programmes which we can draw in which will operate pre-crime and help to divert them from those evil ways."

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones told BBC News he would be happy to meet community leaders.

"We have been attempting to engage with the community and deal with the issues... but I accept more needs to be done in these areas and obviously we are very keen to listen to key leaders from the community and tell us the best way to actually do it.

"The community itself is in many ways the best defence to prevent extremism."

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