Briton denies plot to attack soldiers
A man accused of plotting an extremist attack on British soldiers using a knife and a hammer pleaded not guilty on Thursday, while seven others were arrested in unconnected raids by anti-terrorism police.
The arrests are part of a police crackdown on suspected terrorist activity after authorities raised Britain's terror threat level to "severe" in August and last week introduced new anti-terror legislation.
Security services say they are struggling with a rising tide of Islamic radicalisation fuelled by the conflict in Syria and Iraq, and fear that Britons who have gone to fight in those conflicts may return home to carry out attacks.
At the Old Bailey court in London, Brusthom Ziamani, 29, pleaded not guilty to preparing to commit an act of terrorism on or before August 20 this year.
The southeast London resident had allegedly researched the locations of military bases and written a letter saying he would commit a terrorist act. A trial date was set for February 9.
Earlier on Thursday, counter-terror police arrested two men in southeast London and five men in south Wales in separate raids.
Thursday's arrests follow five others since Sunday on suspicion of terror offences, the Metropolitan Police said.
Britain's parliament is currently debating new anti-terrorism legislation proposed by Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition government.
The draft laws would give the authorities the power to relocate people identified as Muslim radicals, force universities to bar extremist preachers and toughen laws against would-be jihadists planning to leave for Iraq and Syria as well as those returning.
Rights groups and Islamic organisations say the measures are rushed, infringe civil liberties and could alienate Britain's 2.8 million-strong Muslim community.
© 2014 AFP