10 Oct 2012

Pair arrested at Heathrow in Syria terrorism investigation

Two people arrested at London’s Heathrow airport last night are being questioned over the abduction of a British photographer, Scotland Yard says.

Counter-terrorism police officers arrested the pair, a man and a woman both aged 26, after they arrived on a flight to the airport at 8.30pm yesterday – as part of an investigation into travel to Syria in support of “alleged terrorist activity”.

It has now emerged that police, who have taken the British pair to a central London police station, are questioning them over the abduction of photographer John Cantlie.

Mr Cantlie, who had worked for the Sunday Times, was abducted alongside Dutchman Jeroen Oerlemans for around a week in July. The pair were accused of working for the CIA and kept blindfolded and handcuffed. They eventually managed to escape with help from rebel fighters.

A statement from the Metropolitan Police said the pair were being held on “suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism”.

Police said they had flown into the UK from Egypt, but are not Egyptian.

The arrest forms a part of a wider investigation into people travelling to Syria to support alleged terrorism. Police said they are today also searching residential premises in east London in connection with the inquiry.

In recent months concerns have been raised that foreign nationals are travelling to Syria with the intention of supporting jihadist movements.

In August, Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, told the BBC that a number of people in his constituency were travelling to the war-torn Middle Eastern state, and that he expected this to increase.