A 14-YEAR-OLD boy from Blackburn has been arrested on suspicion of a terrorism offence after a joint raid which saw his computer and mobile phone hauled away by police.
Officers from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit and Lancashire Police swooped on a home, believed to be in the Audley area, and seized a number of electronic devices.
The 14-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of preparing for an act of terrorism and bailed by police until May 28.
And the raid, carried out last Thursday, prompted a further swoop on a cul-de-sac in the Longsight area of Manchester, the following day.
Police have now confirmed that a 16-year-old girl, living at an address in Clee Avenue, was arrested on suspicion of engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism, as part of a follow-operation involving the Greater Manchester force. She has also been bailed until May 28.
Investigators have remained tight-lipped regarding the nature of the terrorist acts allegedly involving the teenage pair but stressed that their detention was not linked to the incident which has seen nine adults and infants stopped at the border between Turkey and Syria late last week.
The Blackburn arrest has provoked shock among the wider community – and prompted calls for an ‘open and frank’ debate on terrorism issues affecting the town.
Cllr Salim Sidat, who represents the Audley ward, said: “I have been very outspoken regarding people going to fight for ISIS. Perhaps now it is time to have an open and frank discussion.
“The way that I see it, it is an issue which the Muslim community cannot even see themselves. This is happening and we must work together to address now. I’ve heard it was someone from Audley and I am currently trying to find out more.”
Cllr Salim Mulla, who represents the town’s Queens Park ward, added: “I am surprised that a 14-year-old boy has got himself involved in this kind of thing and I am trying to get to the bottom of it.”
Abdul Hamid Qureshi, chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said: “It is very sad but we don’t always know what these arrests involve. We will have to wait and see what the police have found.”
Lancashire Police refused to confirm which street in Blackburn saw the anti-terrorism operation, claiming that Greater Manchester Police was leading the investigation.
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman, while confirming the Longsight address, also refused to reveal where the Blackburn operation took place.
The offence, if found proved, can led to a sentence of life imprisonment.