Arrested Man Was Son of Tory Party Activist
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HIGH WYCOMBE, England — Five homes in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, were raided by police yesterday and an area of woodland cordoned off and searched throughout the day.
Neighbors at one address in a quiet cul-de-sac described how the 20-year-old son of the family, a former grammar school pupil and art student, had converted to Islam about a year ago, to the concern of his mother. He married an Islamic woman just a month ago, and she moved in with him and his mother, a physical education teacher.
The man’s father, said to have been a Conservative Party agent based in Westminster, died when his son was 14. He had already retired through ill health when the family moved to High Wycombe from Eastbourne.
The man’s older sister went away to university and then moved to Cornwall, leaving him and his mother alone in the house. The house, in Hepplewhite Close, was sealed off and a police forensics team called in.
Neighbors said that, since his conversion to Islam, the son had shaved his head, grown a beard, and changed his name.
One said: “His mother told me a few months ago that he had converted to Islam. I think she was concerned but had accepted it.”
Another said: “I told him I thought he was daft, and he just said he wanted to give it a try.” However, neighbors who had known him since he was a young boy agreed that he was a polite young man.
One said: “He was always such a pleasant young man, always so polite, so very helpful. He always acknowledged us, and we always used to wave to him.”
Police raided four other homes in High Wycombe early yesterday and evacuated nine homes surrounding one of them as a precaution.
A superintendent of Thames Valley Police, Mike Ismay, said: “Several addresses have been cordoned off and are currently being searched by specialist officers.
“The evacuation in Walton Drive is standard practice in operations of this kind, and there is no need for anyone to be alarmed.
“There is no direct intelligence at this time to suggest that the threat to people living in the Wycombe area is any greater than normal, although we would urge members of the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to us. The investigation, which will be complex and lengthy, is still at an early stage.”
In Walton Drive, where the nine homes were evacuated, two brothers were believed to have been arrested.
The brothers, who are both married, live in the semi-detached house with their wives and parents. A friend said: “They are good mates of mine, practicing Muslims. Teachings in the mosque have taught them to not to speak back to their elders and commit any violent acts on innocent people. They keep themselves to themselves. These guys would never do any terrorism.”
A 17-year-old neighbor said: “They used to play football with everybody down the park up until about three years ago. Since then, they have been very quiet.”
Other neighbors said the brothers had recently shunned their mosque and become “more insular.”
They said the brothers, in their mid- or late 20s, had started to wear more traditional clothing and visited an Islamic bookshop.
The owner of the bookshop, who declined to give his name, said: “Our books teach good things like not smoking, taking drugs, or alcohol, not to hurt anybody. None of the people that use this store were involved in terrorism.”
Another two houses, owned by the same family, half a mile away in Micklefield Road, were also raided.