UK & World News
Seven Held On Terrorism Funding Charges
Police have arrested seven people in England and Wales on suspicion of funding terrorism through the alleged sale of the drug khat.
The arrests were made by detectives from the Counter Terrorism Command at four addresses in London, Coventry and Cardiff on Tuesday morning.
"The arrests were a part of a pre-planned, intelligence-led operation, into suspected fundraising for terrorism overseas," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
Six men, ranging in age from 30 to 49, and a 45-year-old woman, were taken to a central London police station where they remain in custody.
The police said they were "investigating a network suspected of illegally exporting the stimulant khat, which is legal in the UK" to other countries.
Khat is grown in North East Africa and Yemen and chewed leaves act as an amphetamine-like stimulant. It has been used in the region for centuries.
The World Health Organisation said: "Khat chewing induces a state of euphoria and elation with feelings of increased alertness and arousal - this is followed by a stage of vivid discussions, loquacity and an excited mood.
"However, at the end of a khat session the user may experience depressive mood, irritability, anorexia and difficulty to sleep."
Sky News crime correspondent Martin Brunt said: "The plot is allegedly to export the khat from Britain to the US and Canada where it is banned.
"The money that this network has allegedly been raising was then channelled to support terrorism in Somalia or other areas of North East Africa."
A further eight search warrants were executed at seven residential addresses in London, Worthing, and Coventry, and a business premises in Coventry.
Police said that searches were ongoing, but no other arrests have been made at these premises.
Brunt added: "The US Homeland Security department has been involved in the operation and the planning of it over several weeks."