Extremists with ties to Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group, were caught stockpiling explosive material in London in 2015, an article published by the Telegraph on Sunday revealed.
The article says the extremists were caught stockpiling ice packs containing ammonium nitrate, a common ingredient in homemade bombs, at a location in the outskirts of the British capital.
According to the Telegraph, a national British daily newspaper based in London, the Hezbollah-tied extremist plot was uncovered by MI5 in 2015 just after the UK had signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal.
The article reports that three metric tonnes of ammonium nitrate were found in the four properties that were raided on the outskirts of London.
The Telegraph states that the operation and investigation by MI5, which lasted for months, was launched after a foreign government tipped them off.
“MI5 worked independently and closely with international partners to disrupt the threat of malign intent from Iran and its proxies in the UK,” said a UK intelligence source cited in the article.
Earlier in February, Britain said it plans to ban all wings of Hezbollah due to its destabilizing influence in the Middle East, classifying the Lebanese militant movement as a terrorist organization.
London had already proscribed Hezbollah’s external security unit and its military wing in 2001 and 2008 respectively but now wants to outlaw its political arm too.
“Hezbollah is continuing in its attempts to destabilize the fragile situation in the Middle East, and we are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party,” Home Secretary (interior minister) Sajid Javid said.
“Because of this, I have taken the decision to proscribe the group in its entirety,” he added in a statement.
The Iran-backed Shiite group is already deemed a terrorist organization by the United States, which had expressed concern about its growing role in Lebanon’s government.
In 2008, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched Project Cassandra, targeting drug trafficking by Hezbollah and investigating the Iranian-backed extremist group’s funding.
The DEA had said that Hezbollah was involved in illicit activities such as drug trafficking and organized crime as a source of funding.
According to an article published by Politico, the Obama administration derailed Project Cassandra in order to secure a nuclear deal with Iran.