LONDON (Reuters) - British prosecutors charged a man on Tuesday with plotting to attack U.S. military personnel based in Britain and planning to join Islamic State militants in Syria with his uncle.
The men, Junead Ahmed Khan, 24, and his uncle Shazid Ahmed Khan, 22, from Luton in central England, were arrested by officers last week and accused of preparing acts of terrorism.
“It is alleged that Junead Khan and Shazib Khan had been planning on traveling to Syria to join the proscribed organization Islamic State in Levant (ISIL),” said Deborah Walsh, Deputy Head of Counter Terrorism at the Crown Prosecution Service.
“It is further alleged that Junead Khan was planning a terrorist attack on U.S. military personnel in the UK and he has been charged with an additional terrorism offense to reflect this.”
The men appeared at London’s Westminster magistrates court later on Tuesday and were remanded in custody until their next appearance at the Old Bailey court on Aug. 10.
No further details were given of what the authorities believe was the target of the alleged attack.
However, events to celebrate U.S. Independence Day over the July 4 holiday at RAF Feltwell, used as a housing estate for U.S. Air Force personnel which is about 60 miles (100 km) from Luton, were canceled “due to the most current local threat assessments.”
A U.S. government source said American officials believe the alleged attack could have been launched over the July 4 weekend.
The U.S. source said it was possible the plotters had some direct or indirect contact with Islamic State operatives or supporters.
But investigators also believe that the alleged U.K. attack plan fits an “Islamic State model,” under which Islamic State leaders have encouraged would-be militants located outside territories IS controls to attack local targets with whatever resources they have at hand.
“While we were certainly looking forward to this year’s celebration and hosting the U.S. and UK communities at RAF Feltwell, we have to put public safety first and foremost,” said Colonel David Eaglin, the vice commander of the U.S. 48th Fighter Wing, at the time.
Reporting by Michael Holden in London and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Stephen Addison and Marguerita Choy