A university student arrested by counter-terror police on suspicion of being involved in an alleged Islamist plot was a “good and kind” boy, a neighbour has said.
Rawan Kheder, named locally, is one of five men who has been held in custody since Tuesday following a series of dramatic raids in west and central London, during which one suspect was Tasered by police.
Kheder, of Kurdish descent, lives with his mother and self-employed father in a flat in Chelsea and is believed to be a student at London’s Metropolitan University.
His neighbour, Nacer Dahmas, said he had known the suspected extremist since he was a child and described him as a “good boy, educated in Britain”, adding that Kheder would often assist with his disabilities.
“My son told me this was about terrorism – in my opinion, this is a mistake. He is a good, kind boy. I was very surprised,” he said.
The front door to Kheder’s home, which has hanging baskets and pot plants outside, is marked by two round dents, showing apparent signs of forced entry. Two-bedroom flats in the same block have been put up for sale at £825,000.
Mr Dahmas, a 58-year-old British Algerian, said he was awoken at 4.30am on Tuesday by loud noises and shouting outside his flat.
“It took me a while to get to the window but I saw several police cars and vans outside. Several officers then entered the building and I could hear them above me,” he said.
The fifth arrest was only revealed yesterday by Scotland Yard who initially chose not to release details “for operational reasons”.
All five men – aged between 20 and 21 – have been arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism under the Terrorism Act.
Counter-terror officers believe the raids were an “early disruption” of what could have turned into a “significant plot”.
At least one of the suspects is believed to have travelled to Syria and one line of inquiry is to establish any possible links with Islamic State (IS), the extremist group behind the beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning.
Meanwhile the new UN envoy to Syria has warned at least 500 civilians trapped in the Syrian border town of Kobani besieged by the Islamic State group could be “massacred” if it falls to the extremists.
Staffan de Mistura said in Geneva that a UN analysis shows only a small portion of Kobani remains open for people to enter or flee the town.