British police are continuing to question three of nine men arrested for violating anti-terrorism laws after Lancashire police seized three vans intended to be part of a humanitarian aid convoy of 100 vehicles to be driven to Gaza. The procession is to be headed by pro-Arab Member of Parliament George Galloway.
The Lancashire Telegraph reported that there have been unconfirmed suggestions that the police are investigating the men for terrorist offenses abroad.
Local reports said that police confiscated the men's passports and cellular phones and searched their homes.
"Three vehicles seized as part of the operation are also being searched as a priority in order to release them as soon as possible so they can continue on to their destination," police said in a statement. Investigators found food, clothing and toys in the vehicles and have not uncovered weapons.
Counterterrorist spokesman Stefan Jarmolowicz added, "We don't arrest people under the Terrorism Act lightly," although the three were not publicly linked to any domestic threat.
The convoy, organized by the Viva Palestina pro-Arab organization, left central London on Saturday. The organization posted a video showing various vehicles, including one towing a yacht, leaving Britain’s capital. Volunteers had plans to drive 5,000 miles through France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt where they had intended to cross the Rafiah border crossing into Gaza on March 2.
The organization stated that the vehicles were carrying humanitarian aid, including a fire engine, ambulances, clothes, and toys. British police apparently want to ascertain that no weaponry is included among the organization’s "humanitarian aid."
Muslim community leaders were outraged at the arrest of the men, five of whom were prominent religious figures, according to the Telegraph.
Crackdown on Muslim Terror
The arrests were made at the same time that British authorities are waging a war against growing Muslim terror in the country.
The Times of London reported that extremists from Somalia, who previously entered Britain to seek asylum, have returned to the country after undergoing terrorist training, raising fears that they will try to launch domestic attacks.
Another target of British authorities is a chain of Muslim preachers who rant against democracy as being incompatible with Islam. British authorities are mapping out a strategy to isolate and publicly reject the preachers' messages, which do not violate any law.