ISLAMIC terrorist suspects arrested in a series of raids at the weekend are believed to be members of a group recruiting young Muslims in Britain to fight coalition troops in Iraq.
The men, most of whom are thought to be Iraqi refugees living in the UK, are suspected of having ties to a group linked to alQaeda. The group is reported to have been plotting a wave of car bomb attacks across Britain and Europe.
The arrests follow concern at the increasing numbers of "jihadis" who are being sent from Britain to join insurgent groups abroad.
The men arrested on Saturday in Croydon, Derby and Wolverhampton are believed to have been linked to a group that has been under surveillance for some weeks.
Undercover officers have been investigating the group's finances, smuggling routes and reported links with known terror leaders such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has orchestrated scores of bomb attacks against US and British soldiers in Iraq and the murders of western hostages such as Ken Bigley.
Security sources claim that police have intercepted information hinting that further atrocities were being planned for London and other UK cities using cars packed with explosives. The intended targets have not been revealed.
During the raids three men were arrested in Croydon, four in Wolverhampton and three in Derby. They can be held for up to 14 days under current legislation.
Forensic teams are still searching properties in the Midlands and London after specialist teams blew off doors and windows to seize the men in carefully synchronised raids.
Neighbours in the Moseley Village area of Wolverhampton described how up to 20 young men at a time would stay in the two-bedroom, semi-detached house in Lewis Avenue that was raided by armed police and MI5 officers.
Last night a Scotland Yard spokesman said the ten men, aged between 20 and 30, were arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism under the Terrorism Act (2000).
Al-Zarqawi has boasted that British volunteers fighting with his al-Qaeda Organisation of Holy War in Iraq have helped to kill US troops like "moles and flies".
At least three Britons are said to have been killed in recent months during US-led bombings of insurgent strongholds, and one UK-based militant died in a suicide attack on a military checkpoint.
More than 50 UK based extremists are estimated to have been killed in eight countries, which experts say is more than from the rest of the countries of western Europe put together. This number does not include the four British-born suicide bombers who died in the July 7 attacks in London. At least another ten men from here were ready to die in terror operations but have been either arrested or their attacks failed.
Police and community leaders have been appealing to local Muslim populations to report any suspicious behaviour following the attacks on London's transport system.
Undercover teams have also been monitoring some Islamic youth groups and radical preachers who are suspected of playing a key role in radicalising young men to join jihadi groups in Kashmir, Chechnya and Afghanistan as well as Iraq.
Using their British or European passports, these men can still easily cross borders posing as students, volunteer aid workers or travellers going to visit family. Intelligence agencies say many recruits have slipped into Iraq through its long, porous border with Syria.
MI5 believe that up to 70 young Muslim men have in the past two years travelled from Britain to join the insurgency against coalition forces based in Iraq. The underground network to get these men into Iraq is so sophisticated that recruits from Europe are reportedly coming to Britain to join this international brigade of jihadis.
Their numbers are not crucial to the likes of al-Zarqawi, but their propaganda value is enormous. So too are the finances these UK-based recruitment groups can provide.
Senior police officers still cannot agree on the numbers who went to camps run by al-Qaeda. Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, the recently retired Metropolitan Police Commissioner, put the figure at 2,000. His successor, Sir Ian Blair, claims it is nearer 200.