Anti-terror update: No arrests and no further searches

Chief Inspector Justina Beeken
Chief Inspector Justina Beeken

Sussex Police said no arrests have been made and no more houses have been searched during an investigation by counter terrorism police in Crawley.

Officers from the South East Counter Terrorism Unit (SECTU) have been in Crawley since Wednesday as part of ongoing enquiries into a suicide bombing in Syria.

Crawley man Abdul Waheed Majid, 41, is suspected of driving a lorry into a prison in Aleppo, Syria, last week and detonating a bomb.

During the investigation, officers searched one house in Martyrs Avenue on Wednesday (February 12) and three more houses on Thursday (February 13) in St Joan Road, Langley Drive and Punch Copse Road.

Sussex Police District Commander, Chief Inspector Justina Beeken said her team of officers has been supporting the communities affected by the searches.

She said: “We have been working with those directly affected by the searches, as well as the neighbours nearby and the wider community in Crawley.

“We have been talking to them and asking what they want and need from us.

“As part of this we supported the families whose homes were searched, which is what we always do in these circumstances.

“One of the families indicated they would like to go to a mosque and we assisted them in making contact with the right people.

“Officers from SECTU need to establish whether the believed deceased had become involved in the conflict in Syria and his identity has still not been confirmed.

“We have held regular community meetings, with partners and members of the community, to talk to them about what has been happening in their neighbourhoods.

“We gave reassurance to them and asked them to tell us about their concerns.

“During the searches on Wednesday and Thursday, we listened to what people were telling us and tried to help minimise disruption, our aim was to reduce the impact of the searches, by ensuring they were as unobtrusive as possible.

“For example a PCSO moved from a cordon to respect the wishes of nearby neighbours and so the search by the Counter Terrorist officers could continue in a sensitive manner.

“We have offered our support to the mosques, if they feel they would like it, during prayer times.

“There has also been a leaflet distributed which gives information about the situation in Syria and to provide reassurance about what has been happening in the town this week.

“We need to help the Muslim community understand that we are trying to ensure the desire to help in Syria is not exploited and that help given does not actually exacerbate the conflict.

“People can become more vulnerable when away from home. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice is that the whole of Syria is unsafe and people should not travel there.

“We held a meeting on February 6 in Crawley to address this very issue with Muslim Community members from across Sussex and representatives from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Charity Commission and the office of Security and Terrorism.”

Chief Inspector Beeken continued: “There have been no issues reported to us across the district and the community has come together, like it always does, to support each other.

“The community, whatever faith, the local authority and the police also have a long history of working together in partnership, and will continue to do so.”