An ISIS plot to carry out a large-scale atrocity in the United Kingdom using British terrorists has been uncovered by Iraqi intelligence officials.
The plot was uncovered after a unit – dubbed the Golden Division – carried out a raid against a cell of ISIS fanatics hiding out in the desert, Iraq‘s chief counter terror officer General Abdul Wahab al-Saadi revealed.
The general said the Islamic State terrorists were British-based and had been making plans for a ‘big attack’ on a major public gathering.
Al-Saadi has been leading his troops as they prepare for their next SAS-style advance on the terror group, also known as Daesh, The Mirror reports.
The general said: ‘We discovered that the UK is the next target outside Iraq.
British-based Islamic State terrorists have been making plans for an atrocity on a major public gathering, according to Iraq’s chief counter terror officer General Abdul Wahab al-Saadi
Dubbed the Golden Division, Iraq’s Counter Terror Service discovered the international plot after killing a cell of militants in a desert hideout just days ago
‘In the past few weeks we launched major operations against Daesh or Islamic State and killed large numbers of terrorists, in one raid there were about five of them, all quite senior,’ General al-Saadi said.
‘I can tell you that from the information we found at the site of one of our recent raids the next intended terror attack will be in the United Kingdom.’
The general described members of the cell as British nationals and added the material is now in the hands of Britain’s secret services.
He added: ‘We do have evidence that terrorists here are in contact with extremists in the United Kingdom, and that they are plotting.
‘I cannot tell what form the attack they want to launch would take as it can be a car, a knife, a gun, a bomb.’
The general added that the cell is looking to maximise their attack ‘in public’ and that the group’s ‘four priority’ countries in Europe are the UK, France, Belgium and Germany.
The general spoke as his troops practised manoeuvres in 46C heat at Baghdad Airport.
Iraqi Federal Police members take cover as smoke billows from a big explosion
Exercises included soldiers storming a mock hideout, using helicopters and practising with two-dozen armoured cars and machine guns.
Islamic State, formed out of the remnants of al-Quaeda, has claimed thousands of lives – including dozens of UK citizens – in its brutal crusade to create a caliphate.
The group captured vast swathes of Iraqi territory in 2014 and siezed on the unrest of the civil war to take control of parts of eastern Syria as well.
By the end of 2015, an estimated eight to 12million people lived within Islamic State’s borders, within which it enforced its barbaric interpretation of Islamic law and became infamous for its widespread human rights abuses.
Since then, the group has been pushed back, and by 2019 it had lost the last of its Middle Eastern territories and instead reverted back to being an insurgency.
The group was led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during its most prominent years (2013 to 2019) before he detonated a suicide vest as US forces closed in around him. Since then, a number of its leaders have killed themselves or died in combat.
Iraq is eager to announce it has routed IS from within its borders, and is throwing resources at remaining factions of the terror group.
On Sunday, one Iraqi soldier iand an officer wounded during a counter-terrorism raid that also killed three suspected Islamic State group fighters, Baghdad’s security forces said.
The military operation in Kirkuk province, north of the Iraqi capital, targeted ‘three figures of the terrorist group Daesh in the Turkelan region,’ the security forces said in a statement, using the Arab acronym for IS jihadists. After the suspected IS members were identified, Iraqi troops approached and a clash erupted.
Iraqi counter-terrorism teams conduct a drill including scenarios of hostage rescue
The jihadists ‘were surrounded and killed, the explosive belts they were wearing were detonated’, the report said.
IS jihadists seized swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in 2014, declaring a ‘caliphate’ which they ruled with brutality before their defeat in late 2017 by Iraqi forces backed by a US-led military coalition.
Despite the setbacks, the extremist group can still call on an underground network of fighters to carry out attacks on both sides of the porous border, the United Nations says.