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Two men freed in suspected kidnap plot case

Reuters | February 7, 2007

Two men arrested in connection with a suspected plot to kidnap and kill a British Muslim soldier were released without charge on Wednesday, police said.

The freed men were not asked about such a conspiracy and were not told why they were arrested, according to their lawyer.

Seven other men held under anti-terrorism laws a week ago in Birmingham remained in custody after a court

gave detectives an extra three days to question them.
Police said the decision not to charge two of the men was made after talks with the Crown Prosecution Service, which has examined the evidence throughout the inquiry.

"In all such operations people may be released without charge at this stage, while others may remain in custody for further investigation," West Midlands Police said in a statement.

"This is normal and to be expected in large, complex criminal enquiries where a number of arrests have taken place."

The force's priority is "to balance the safety of the public against the rights of the men we have in custody", the statement added.

Media reports said the suspected plot was to abduct, torture and behead a soldier and post a video of the killing on the Internet.

A defence source confirmed to Reuters the suspected target was a Muslim serving in the British military.

The Ministry of Defence refused to comment on reports it had taken steps to protect the 330 Muslims serving in the 190,000-strong military.

The two released men received no explanation for their arrest, their lawyer Gareth Peirce said.

"Not a word was ever mentioned to either of them about a plot to kidnap or the grisly suggestion of a beheading or even of a soldier at all," Peirce said in a statement.

Detectives arrested the nine men last Wednesday on suspicion of the "commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism".

Some Muslim groups have voiced scepticism about the arrests because of blunders made in previous high-profile counter-terrorism operations.

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