An 18-year-old British man was arrested in Birmingham, England, early Monday morning on suspicion of preparing to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group, according to police. The arrest of the teen, whose name was not publicly released, followed the Sunday interception by Turkish authorities of two British teens and a man who were also believed to have been en route to Syria, according to Scotland Yard. Those three individuals were arrested on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts and returned to the United Kingdom.
Officers with the West Midlands Police’s Counter Terrorism Unit apprehended the 18-year-old man around 7 a.m. Monday local time, police said. Authorities said the operation to arrest the teen “was pre-planned and intelligence led. There was no immediate threat to public safety.”
There were no further details about the arrest, which occurred a day after two 17-year-old boys and a 19-year-old British man were taken into custody at a central London police station. The boys were reported missing Friday and were believed to have been traveling to Syria, according to Scotland Yard.
The three individuals were intercepted by Turkish authorities, preventing them from heading on to Syria, police said. They were returned to the United Kingdom on Saturday and arrested on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts.
The U.K. has the second highest amount of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria among western European nations, according to figures from the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence. The British government confirmed that 600 British citizens have traveled to Iraq and Syria to fight for militant groups, while intelligence services estimate that there may be as many as 2,000 Britons in those countries, according to the ICSR.
The case of three teen girls from the U.K. who fled to Syria via Turkey gained worldwide attention last month. Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, both 15, and 16-year-old Kadiza Sultana joined the Islamic State group in February, the BBC reported. They are believed to be in Raqqa, the base of operations for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.