Armed police arrest Scottish terror suspect

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Key quote "To be quite honest I'm shocked and amazed. They have an interest in gardening, just as we do. They're very much part of the community and we had no reason to suspect anything" - William Tainsh, 76, local resident

Story in full A YOUNG Muslim man arrested in a dramatic anti-terror raid in Clackmannanshire yesterday morning had been watched by police for several weeks, it emerged last night.

Mohammed Atif Siddique, 20, was seized at around 7am by officers carrying out what was described as "a pre-planned, intelligence-led operation".

More than 60 officers, several of them armed, took part in the raid at the house in Alva, which left neighbours in the normally quiet town stunned.

Mr Siddique was taken to Govan Police station in Glasgow, designated as the station where suspects detained under the Terrorism Act 2000 are held.

His family's four-bedroom semi- detached home, in Myretoun Gates, is opposite the home of the local Labour MP, Gordon Banks.

Eyewitnesses said several people were led out of the house one by one. They were put into individual people carriers and driven off.

Police cordoned off the house and an adjoining grocery and off-licence, which is run by the suspect's family.

Eyewitness Jacquie Boyd, 41, who lives nearby, said: "We were awoken by a commotion at about 6:50am. I looked out and there were dozens of police swarming around with riot shields, helmets and big batons.

"They had a battering ram and disappeared round the back of the house. They must have been inside for more than half an hour before they started to bring people out."

Vincent Heugh, 34, a window cleaner, said two vans were parked next to the house and officers "charged out wearing riot gear and shields".

He added: "They used a ram to get into the building. The operation took about 20 minutes."

Other eyewitnesses said the shop, where Mr Siddique sometimes works with his parents, was closed, with bundles of newspapers lying outside.

The cordon remained in place last night as officers stood guard outside the premises and forensic teams carried out an exhaustive search of the house.

Mr Banks, who is on holiday, spoke of his alarm at the incident.

He said: "I only met the family when I went into the shop for the Sunday papers. Anyone caught up in a situation like this must be worried but the police have said they will keep me briefed once they are able to release more information.

"Police told me they had been watching the situation for some weeks."

Residents said they had noticed men in cars watching the shop in the days leading up to the raid.

Central Scotland Police insiders said the operation involved "almost every senior officer" in the Stirling-based force.

Superintendent Gavin Buist, however, stressed the incident posed "no threat" to the local community and added there was no change to the general threat level facing the UK.

He added: "We are providing a high- visibility presence in the immediate area and our mobile police office has been positioned in Alva.

"Additionally, we are in close liaison with local community leaders and representatives to keep them informed and reassured."

Anyone arrested under the Terrorism Act can be held for up to 14 days, but court permission is needed to hold a suspect for longer than two days.

In 2002, nine Algerians were arrested in Edinburgh and charged under the Terrorism Act, though the charges were later withdrawn for lack of admissible evidence.

The justice minister, Cathy Jamieson, who was briefed on yesterday's operation, said: "I want to put on the record our wholehearted support for the police service in Scotland in tackling all the potential threats that we face as a society. I am sure that every law-abiding community in the country would endorse that." She said the public should be "alert but not alarmed".

Shocked neighbours speak of 'nice fellow'

PEOPLE in Alva last night described Mohammed Siddique as a "nice fellow" whose family were keen gardeners.

Robert Innes, 47, a kitchen designer, said he knew the family well.

"He is a very nice fellow. I had phoned the local paper initially because we thought that it had been the shopkeeper that had been attacked.

"That was the sort of scale we were thinking of. I find it very hard to believe that the son could be involved in anything."

William Tainsh, 76, added: "To be quite honest I'm shocked and amazed. They have an interest in gardening, just as we do. They're very much part of the community and we had no reason to suspect anything."

Mr Siddique is known to have attended the mosque in nearby Alloa, where fellow Muslims said he had studied computing at the Glasgow College of Nautical Studies, which is close to the Central Mosque.