London counter-terrorism officers said on Friday they had carried out a raid on three premises linked to a radical Muslim group, shortly after the organisation, which had planned a demonstration to disrupt Armistice Day ceremonies, was banned.
Later, police arrested 57 people, believed to be supporters of the English Defence League, to prevent a breach of the peace near the Cenotaph in central London where a ceremony to mark the occasion took place.
Scotland Yard said properties connected to Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) and its leading figure Anjem Choudary, were raided late on Thursday night following the decision by Home Secretary Theresa May to make support of the group a criminal offence.
At 11 p.m. last night, officers from the Counter Terrorism Command executed three search warrants under the Terrorism Act 2000 at addresses in east London, a London police spokesman said on Friday.
These searches concluded at 5.30 a.m. this morning.
There were no arrests he said.
Choudary said his house and a community centre where the group used to teach in Whitechapel were two of the targets.
It's a fishing expedition at the end of the day, they've got nothing on me. I haven't done anything illegal, he told Reuters. Obviously it's inconvenient, but that doesn't stop me propagating what I believe.
Last year, members of MAC burnt two large poppies outside the Royal Albert Hall in London during the two-minute silence to mark Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the day the Armistice was signed marking the end of the First World War.
The action caused widespread anger, and the group had promised a hell for heroes demonstration at the same location on Friday. On its website, MAC said it had disbanded and Choudary said the protest over Britain's foreign policy would now not go ahead.
I think that the objective has been achieved which is to show that the poppy and Armistice Day is a fig leaf which has been used to cover the crimes which have been committed, he said.
Our message has gone viral and global really because of the pronouncement of Theresa May so I don't see there's any point (of holding the protest).
May said MAC was the latest incarnation of organisations also linked to Choudary which had been banned, including al Muhajiroun, Islam4UK and Al Ghurabaa. Choudary said he would discuss options for a new group with colleagues.
Meanwhile, 57 suspected supporters of the EDL, which has regularly clashed with the MAC, were detained by police in at a pub opposite the Cenotaph.
We have had a group of people arrested outside the Red Lion in Whitehall to prevent a breach of the peace, a police spokeswoman said.
On its website, the EDL said its members had been planning to meet in Westminster. This is about the memories of the fallen past and present,? ?and anyone who acts otherwise will only be helping MAC in disrupting the day, it said.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison)