Three British men were charged Thursday with preparing acts of terrorism
Prosecutors tell London court the men were inspired by ISIS to behead member of public
The three were arrested in and around London on November 6
Three British men have been accused of plotting to decapitate a member of the public in the street, a court in London heard Thursday.
British prosecutors said the men were inspired by a speech from the terror group ISIS, which called for attacks on “disbelievers.”
Nadir Sayed, 21; Yousaf Syed, 19, and Haseeb Hamayoon, 27, were charged Thursday with preparing acts of terrorism, according to London’s Metropolitan Police.
Prosecutor Rebecca Munday claimed the men planned to behead a member of the public with knives.
“These are serious charges, the evidence of which has been set out in a lengthy case summary,” Munday told the court.
“In relation to that this appears to be an incident where there was an attack planned in the United Kingdom which seemed imminent.”
The suspects were arrested in and around London on November 6 in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday – when Britain marks the end of World War I – along with a fourth man who was later released without charge.
Armed police – who are rarely deployed in the United Kingdom – took part in three of the four arrests, though no shots were fired, police said at the time.
The accused had been held in custody for two weeks – the maximum time allowed under UK anti-terror laws before suspects must be charged.
There’s been a marked increase in the number of people taken into custody recently under Britain’s Terrorism Act 2000.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said last month that counter-terrorism officers were “running exceptionally high numbers of counter-terrorism investigations, the likes of which we have not seen for several years.”
In the year up to October 17, there had been 218 terror-related arrests, he said, adding that officers are disrupting “several attack plots a year.”
Many of the most recent terrorism-related arrests have been in London, the nation’s capital and the site of deadly coordinated 2005 suicide attacks, as well as the 2013 public slaying of British soldier Lee Rigby – who was hit with a car and then attacked with knives by two men who were later found guilty of his murder and imprisoned for life.
The UK government raised its terror threat level from “substantial” to “severe” – the fourth-highest of five levels – in late August in response to ISIS militants’ surge in Iraq and Syria and their threats against the West. At the time, UK Home Secretary Theresa May said “that means that a terrorist attack is highly likely, but there is no intelligence to suggest that an attack is imminent.”
None of the men in court Thursday entered a plea. They are next due to appear at London’s Central Criminal Court on December 4.
CNN’s Richard Allen Greene and Nick Thompson contributed to this report.