Iran and Hezbollah-linked alleged terrorists were in 2015 caught stockpiling tonnes of explosive materials in North West London in a secret bomb factory, The Telegraph revealed in an exclusive report on Sunday.
Terrorists linked to the Lebanese Shia terror group Hezbollah stashed thousands of disposable ice packs containing ammonium nitrate – a common ingredient in homemade bombs.
The report said that the plot was uncovered by MI5 and the Metropolitan Police in autumn 2015, just months after the UK signed the Iran nuclear deal alongside P5+1 world powers.
Three metric tonnes of ammonium nitrate was discovered at the properties – more than what was used in the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.
Police raided four properties in north-west London – three businesses and a home. A man in his 40s was arrested on suspicion of plotting terrorism, but eventually released without charge.
The disclosure follows a three-month investigation by The Telegraph.
According to sources, ice packs provide the perfect cover as they are seemingly harmless and easy to transport.
Hezbollah had previously been caught storing ice packs in Thailand, and in Cyprus a similar plot had been foiled just months before the discovery in London. In Cyprus, 26-year-old dual Lebanese and Canadian national Hussein Bassam Abdallah was caught storing more than 65,000 ice packs in a basement. He admitted during interrogation to being a member of Hezbollah’s military wing and said he had been trained to use an AK47 assault rifle.
Police found in his luggage two photocopies of a forged British passport.
Abdallah confessed that the 8.2 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored was for terrorist attacks. He pleaded guilty and was given a six-year prison sentence in June 2015.
There have been numerous Hezbollah and Iran-linked terror incidents in Europe in recent years. In July 2012, five Israeli tourists and a driver were killed when a bomb went off on a bus from the Bulgarian city of Burgas’s airport. In the Netherlands in June 2018, two Iranian diplomats were expelled over alleged political assassinations in the country. In the same month, France blamed Iran’s intelligence ministry for a foiled bomb plot allegedly due to target a rally of Iranian opposition groups in Paris.
In February 2019, Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced that the UK government proscribe the Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation in its entirety.