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7 Arrested at Mosque; Police Cite Ricin Link

January 20, 2003|From Reuters

LONDON — Anti-terrorist police raided a London mosque early today and said the operation was linked to the discovery of the deadly toxin ricin in an apartment in the capital two weeks ago. Seven people were arrested, Scotland Yard said.

The Finsbury Park mosque in North London is near the apartment where the ricin was found Jan. 5 and is the base of one of Britain's most outspoken Muslim clerics, Sheik Abu Hamza al Masri. It was unclear whether he was among those detained. The radical cleric is known for his support of Osama bin Laden and his criticism of Western foreign policy.

Police said no chemicals were found on the mosque premises. Ricin, one of the world's deadliest naturally occurring poisons, is derived from the castor bean plant, and there is no antidote.

Witnesses to the raid said police in riot gear swarmed out of about 50 police vehicles into the mosque and used ladders to clamber in through windows.

Last week, police staged a raid in Manchester in connection with the ricin probe.

During that operation, a suspect fatally stabbed a police detective and injured several others. The man has been charged with murder.

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