The Metropolitan Police and MI5 uncovered a Hezbollah bomb plot in North London in 2015.
The Telegraph reported on Sunday that police discovered three tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored inside disposable ice packs when they raided four properties in north-west London – three businesses and a home – arresting a man in his 40s on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack. The man was eventually released without charge.
Israeli media reported that the discovery of the bomb plot was assisted by information from Israel’s external intelligence agency Mossad. A UK intelligence source told the Telegraph that: “MI5 worked independently and closely with international partners to disrupt the threat of malign intent from Iran and its proxies in the UK.”
The operation took place just months after the UK signed the JCPOA Iran nuclear deal alongside the US, Germany, France, China and Russia. The story has led to questions as to why details of the raid were kept secret, why Members of Parliament were not informed and why the incident was never mentioned during extensive debates about whether all of Hezbollah should be banned as a terrorist organisation. Until February this year only the military wing of Hezbollah was a banned terrorist organisation.
Joan Ryan, one of the most active campaigners for a full Hezbollah ban has written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to ask why were the public and MPs were not informed about the incident and whether the Government withheld information due to the Iran nuclear deal.
Home Office Minister Ben Wallace said in response to a question in the House of Commons: “We don’t comment on intelligence operations for obvious reasons… obviously if Hezbollah was behaving in that manner at that time that would have been under the military wing of Hezbollah, as it was classified, and would have been an act of terrorism and indeed would have been subject to the proscription provisions.”
BICOM published a briefing on the proscription of Hezbollah, available here.