| A police car outside The Bridge To China Town restaurant in Borough, south London. (AFP)
London, Sept. 2: Only weeks after Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen expressed disapproval of Muslim and other faith schools in Britain, police have swooped on the Jameah Islamiyah Secondary School in Mark Cross, near Crowborough, East Sussex, an institution with only a handful of pupils but a 100-room building and set in 54 acres of grounds.
The school, which was condemned by government inspectors for its poor academic work, was being searched by police today but so far no arrests have been made.
In anti-terrorist raids overnight and early today, 14 Muslims, thought to be mainly British Pakistanis, have been arrested in London, several of them at a Chinese restaurant. Armed police swarmed into The Bridge to China Town in Borough, south London, ordered diners to stop eating, closed the kitchens and took several people away.
Another two have been arrested in Manchester by 50 policemen. These are tough times for young British Pakistanis who feel they are increasingly being demonised as the “enemy within”.
Since the unravelling of the alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic aircraft, police activity has intensified with British Pakistanis coming in for closer scrutiny.
And today, a senior Scotland Yard officer claimed that “thousands” may be directly or indirectly involved in terrorism.
Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard’s Anti-Terrorist Branch, who often appears on television during times of great crisis, said: “What we’ve learnt since 9/11 is that the threat is not something that’s simply coming from overseas into the UK. What we’ve learned, and what we’ve seen all too graphically and all too murderously is that we have a threat which is being generated here within the UK.”
Interviewed for a BBC TV programme called Al Qaida — Time to Talk', he said: “All I can say is that our knowledge is increasing and certainly in terms of broad description, the numbers of people who we have to be interested in are into the thousands.
“That includes a whole range of people, not just terrorists, not just attackers, but the people who might be tempted to support or encourage or to assist.”
Those arrested today were picked up under the Terrorism Act 2000.
It is being suggested that most are not directly involved in terrorist activities but are suspected of “instigating” terrorism — a concept that some lawyers say will be hard to define.
For example, could voicing opposition to the Iraq war constitute “instigation” if it encourages young Muslims to take up terrorism'
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Anti-Terrorist Branch have arrested 14 men under the Terrorism Act 2000 in a pre-planned, intelligence-led operation.
“The arrests in south and east London follow many months of surveillance and investigation in a joint operation involving the Anti-Terrorist Branch, Special Branch and the Security Service.”