PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA: South African police on Saturday arrested a 64-year-old businessman who had threatened for months to unleash biological weapons on Britain and the United States.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) said the man, whose identity was not immediately released, was arrested at 10.30 a.m. local time in the Hartbeespoort area of North West Province. He was arrested on unspecified charges relating to terrorism.
According to police, the terror suspect was taken into custody after a six month operation conducted by various SAPS units after a notification by British police of an individual threatening to attack Britain.
"The suspect repeatedly, through letters and e-mails, demanded an amount of USD 4 million in exchange for not deploying a biological agent within the borders of the United Kingdom," a police statement said. "This biological agent, if deployed, would have caused the destruction of property and resulted in major economic loss. This was therefore regarded as a very serious threat against the UK."
A similar threat was also made against the United States, South African police said, without providing other details. It said the London Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were involved in the investigation.
"Over the past years we have emphasised the need for strong and effective cooperation with all Interpol member countries in order to fight international crime syndicates and their corrupt activities," said Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa. "This arrest affirms our firm stance that it is only through a working-together approach that we will be able to crack the backbone of networks of crime. As Government and Police leadership, we welcome the arrest and are hopeful that this scoundrel will receive the harshest sentence."
SASP said several crime scenes, including the storage facility where the arrest took place, were still being processed as of Saturday afternoon and did not say whether or not the suspect had any weapons to carry out his threat. The man is expected to appear in court on Monday.
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