LONDON (JTA) – British anti-terrorism police arrested three men allegedly planning a terror attack as they left to join a Gaza aid convoy leaving from London.
Police officers stopped several vehicles on Feb. 13 on a motorway in North England. Nine people were arrested; six of them have since been released without charge.
Police confirmed that the arrested men were on their way to join the convoy, which left London on Feb. 14 for a 30-day journey to Gaza.
Police also searched homes in North England for suspects in what police have described as an "ongoing intelligence-led operation."
Also as part of the counterterrorism operation, police searched five properties in Burnley. A computer was removed from one of the properties and three vehicles were seized. According to eyewitnesses, one of the vehicles was an old ambulance on which Palestinian flags were painted along with the slogans “Free Palestine” and “Stop Killing the Children of Gaza.”
Organizers of the Viva Palestina convoy said they did not know those who were arrested. Local residents said they all recently converted to Islam.
On Feb. 14, more than 100 vehicles, including a fire engine and 12 ambulances, left London in a convoy to Gaza, via France, Spain, North Africa and Egypt. All of the vehicles were said to be carrying aid for the people of Gaza. Organizers said the vehicles would be left in Gaza and the drivers would fly back to Britain. They claim to have collected nearly $1.5 million at mosques and local fund-raisers.
The convoy is led by British Member of Parliament George Galloway. Organizers said that most, though not all, of the participants are British Muslims.