Counter-terrorism probe after chemicals, fake gun and grenades found in home

Counter-terrorism police are investigating after grenades, a fake gun and various chemicals were found in a home in Suffolk.

A 59-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism after the discovery during a police raid in Lowestoft on Sunday.

Neighbours said the arrested man had “around 15 cats”, was often seen feeding the seagulls and one neighbour said he had converted to Islam and made weekly trips to a mosque in Norwich.

The scene in Normanhurst Close, Lowestoft, where a man has been arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism
The scene in Normanhurst Close (Sam Russell/PA)

Two inert military grenades and an imitation gun were found, along with various chemicals that led Suffolk Police to call in counter-terrorism investigators from the Metropolitan Police.

A 100-metre cordon was initially put in place and three neighbouring properties in Normanhurst Close evacuated as the inquiry continued.

The property that remains at the centre of the cordon is a flat in a two-storey block in a quiet cul-de-sac.

Neighbour Julie Grove, 69, said: “Everyone’s friendly in this little road.

“You used to see him out every day with his cats and feeding the seagulls.

“He had all his cats and he’d stand out there with a notebook and let about three out at a time and he’d write the names down of the cats he’d let out.”

She said he “kept himself to himself” but would throw bread in the road to feed the seagulls and would speak to a neighbour in an upstairs flat.

Ms Grove said he told the neighbour that he had converted to Islam and she said she would see the man getting picked up on a Friday morning.

“We know all about his connection, being picked up every Friday and being taken to Norwich to go to the mosque there,” said Ms Grove.

The scene in Normanhurst Close, Lowestoft, where a man has been arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism
Police are at the scene (Sam Russell/PA)

“Someone would come and pick him up every Friday morning from Norwich and take him over to the mosque.

“We know he converted to Islam as he told the chap upstairs that he had.”

Neighbour Andrew Reid, 46, said: “He’s always using the telephone box at the end of the road and we just thought it was a bit strange to be honest.

“I’ve not had any dealings with him and I’ve been here now four years.

“He’s never said hello or anything, he keeps himself to himself.”

A neighbour who gave her name only as Suzy said the man lived alone.

“He’s got about 15 cats and feeds all the seagulls, and that’s about all we really know about him,” she said.

“He’s been here I don’t know, about 15 years or more.”

She added: “He’s just weird.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Alexis Boon, from the Met Police Counter Terrorism Command, said: “After a pre-planned operation by Suffolk Constabulary in which officers arrested a man, the Met Police Counter Terrorism Command is now leading this investigation, working closely with police in Suffolk.

“Suffolk Constabulary acted quickly to make the area safe, including erecting a cordon around the address as a precautionary measure while inquiries are ongoing, however we have found nothing to suggest an ongoing threat to the public.

“I would like to thank the community for its understanding and patience while officers continue this work.

“Local officers from Suffolk Constabulary Safer Neighbourhood Teams will remain at the scene over the coming days to continue to provide reassurance.”

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