Two terror suspects arrested in raid planned ISIS-inspired gun attack on Jewish targets in north-west England, court heard

  • Walid Saadaoui, 36, and Amar Hussein, 50, accused of preparing terrorist acts
  • Walid’s brother Bilel Saadaoui, 35, is accused of failing to disclose information
  • All three deny the charges against them after being arrested in high-profile raids

Two men from Greater Manchester prepared to carry out an ISIS-style machine gun attack on Jewish targets, the police and the army, a court was told.

Walid Saadaoui, 36, from Abram, near Wigan, allegedly agreed to pay for four machine guns and a handgun, along with 1,200 rounds of ammunition, and arranged a shelter to store them.

He traveled to Dover in March with Amar Hussein, 50, “for the purpose of conducting a security reconnaissance of the port” where the weapons were to be imported.

Both men are charged with preparing terrorist acts, while Saadaoui’s younger brother Bilel, 35, who appeared alongside them at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today, is accused of failing to share information about a terrorist act.

The trio were arrested as Greater Manchester Police carried out a series of high-profile raids at addresses in Wigan and Bolton. The force has sought to reassure the Jewish community and believes there is no “wider risk” in the area.

Police outside an address in Wigan after an anti-terror raid on May 8. Three men have appeared in court charged with terrorism-related offences
One of the arrests saw armed officers surround a fitness center (pictured) in Hindley, Wigan, in front of shocked gym goers.
Walid Saadaoui, Amar Hussein and Bilel Saadaoui appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today (pictured)

Saadaoui was detained in the evening of May 8, when he was preparing to receive the weapons. Hussein was handcuffed at a separate location, while Bilel was arrested at a gym in Hindley, Wigan, where he lives, on the same day.

The brothers are both from Tunisia and have permission to remain in the UK, the court was told.

Bilel is alleged to have received Saadaoui’s will and the key to a safe containing £75,000.

Rebecca Waller, prosecuting, told the court: “Walid Saadaoui and Amar Hussein planned to carry out an ISIL or Daesh inspired terrorist attack in the UK during which they intended to cause a number of deaths using automatic weapons.

“The main targets of their attack plans were the Jewish community in North West England and members of both the law enforcement and the military.

“Both defendants took significant steps to prepare and by May 2024 had reached the point where they believed they were in a position to launch their attack.

“Between December 2023 and May 2024, Walid Saadaoui shared with another individual his detailed plans to purchase firearms for use in his planned attack. He also stated that he communicated with ISIS and that he is a member of ISIS.

“Walid Saadaoui was arrested on May 8 while on his way to a prearranged meeting to receive weapons. Hussein was arrested at another location and Bilal Saadaoui was also arrested.

A total of four addresses were searched in Wigan and Bolton in what police said was a “long-running and carefully managed investigation”.
An appliance warehouse in Bolton was also raided as part of what were called “planned warrants” in a counter-terror operation
A forensics officer entered the Bolton facility during the investigation on May 9

All three appeared in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court wearing gray prison tracksuits and surrounded by police officers.

Walid Saadaoui spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address and was remanded in custody. There was no bail application.

Amar Hussein was unrepresented and was asked if he wished to apply for bail. He refused to look at the judge and replied, “Do whatever you want.”

Bilal Saadaoui, who has been living with his wife and her two sons since 2010, applied for bail, which was rejected. He sobbed as he was led off the bench.

District Judge Louisa Cieciora remanded all three men in custody and they will appear at the Old Bailey on May 24.

The men were arrested after four search warrants were executed in the Bolton, Abram, Hindley and Great Lever areas of Greater Manchester at around 7.30pm on Wednesday 8 May.

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts sought to reassure Greater Manchester’s Jewish community after the suspects appeared in court on Tuesday. The force is working with the Jewish charity Community Safety Trust to keep locals safe.

The raids, he said, were “the point of much detailed planning” and a “long-running and carefully managed investigation”.

GMP does not believe there is a “wider risk directly linked” to the case.

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts (pictured) tried to reassure Greater Manchester’s Jewish community following the arrests
A police officer stands guard outside a house in Wigan following the anti-terror raids

ACC Potts, who has responsibility for counter-terrorism policing in the North West, said: “Today’s first court appearance highlighted some worrying and distressing details of an alleged terror plot which we believe was planned by suspects in Greater Manchester.

“We know how significant the impact of this will be. Especially for our Jewish community in Greater Manchester and across the country.

“We have been working closely with the Community Security Trust, community groups and key stakeholders ahead of today’s hearing and will continue to update and support them throughout this case.

“We also know it’s important for communities to feel safe. Local officers will continue to listen and act on concerns with partners to protect the public and keep you safe.

“This is a reminder that the threat of terrorism always remains, but also how hard our specialist officers work to prevent harm to our communities.

“If you see anything suspicious or have concerns, please call the police and we will do whatever it takes to keep you safe.”

CST’s Amanda Bomsztyk added: “These are very serious allegations of a plan to carry out a terrorist attack against British Jews at a time of record levels of anti-Semitic hate crime.

“This is one of many recent and ongoing cases that demonstrate why the Jewish community needs such extensive security measures and why our continued partnership with the police and government is so vital.

“We urge everyone in the community to carry on as normal, remain alert and report any anti-Semitism or suspicious activity in Jewish locations to CST and the police.”