updated 9/4/2006 8:03:30 AM ET 2006-09-04T12:03:30

Detectives searched an Islamic school among other sites across London Sunday following raids to round up suspects accused of running terrorist training camps in Britain, police said.

A three-mile exclusion zone was set up around the Jameah Islameah School as officers examined the former convent near Crowborough, 40 miles south of London. Forensic specialists were sweeping buildings and woodlands and planned to search a lake on the grounds, police said.

Charles Hendry, a lawmaker representing the area where the school is located, said the jailed radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri had visited the school with a group of followers. Al-Masri is serving a seven-year prison sentence for inciting his followers to kill non-Muslims.

According to a December 2005 government inspection report, the school set on several acres of grounds had only nine pupils.

Suspects being questioned
Police arrested 14 people late Friday and early Saturday in raids at a halal Chinese restaurant and locations across London in an operation targeting a ring suspected of training and recruiting people for terror attacks.

Two other people were arrested Friday in an unrelated terrorist operation in the northern city of Manchester, police said.

Police said the arrests were not linked to an alleged plot which emerged last month to bomb as many as 10 trans-Atlantic jets or to the July 2005 suicide bombings on London’s transit network, which killed 52 commuters and the bombers.

Government officials said the London arrests were connected to the alleged recruitment and radicalization of young British Muslims, but did not say what triggered the arrests.

The 14 men — between the ages of 17 and 48 — were being questioned on suspicion of committing, preparing or instigating terrorist acts, police said.

“Searches are being carried out at the school site and at locations across London. The suspects remain in custody,” a police spokesman said Sunday on condition of anonymity, in line with force policy.

Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper reported that among the properties raided by police was the London home of al-Masri’s former spokesman, Abu Abdullah. Police would not confirm the precise locations of their searches.

Lawmakers and police have discussed tackling problems of homegrown extremism among Britain’s Muslim communities since last year’s suicide bombings on London’s transit network, carried out by three Britons of Pakistani descent and a Jamaican immigrant who grew up in England.

In past two weeks, officials have charged 15 suspects with terrorism-related offenses over an alleged plot to bomb as many as 10 trans-Atlantic jets. Five others have been released and five are being held without charge following the arrests Aug. 9-10.

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