*** Hmmm.......methinks there are priests in that entourage who should be arrested for their real crimes against children. Is the rape of young boys less offensive than plotting terrorism? MS ***
UPDATE: The "plot" consisted of this kind of conversation: "It would be pretty difficult to shoot the Pope, wouldn't it, as his car is bulletproof?" Another replied: "Yeah, but I bet an RPG would get through that easily enough."
A police source said, "When we received the information it was decided that we needed to get the men in and see if there was a real terrorist plot. It wasn't something that we could have taken a chance with, given that the Pope was in the country that day and the men had access to the Pope's route.
Read more: Plot to attack Pope: UK frees 6 suspects without charge - http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Plot-to-attack-Pope-UK-frees-6-suspects-without-charge/articleshow/6588416.cms
LONDON (Reuters) - Anti-terrorism police, on high alert during a visit by Pope Benedict to the British capital, arrested six men on Friday on suspicion of preparing an attack.
Police moved quickly to make the pre-dawn arrests of five men who worked as street cleaners in the area in central London near parliament where the pontiff later spoke.
A sixth suspect was arrested about eight hours later but it was not clear if he worked for the same cleaning company contracted by the Westminster area of London.
British broadcaster Sky cited unnamed sources as saying the six were Algerian but police said they could not comment on the report and the Algerian embassy said it had not been notified of the arrests of any of its nationals.
Police, who searched eight homes and two businesses in London, reviewed security arrangements after the arrests but decided they remained "appropriate."
The BBC reported that the men had posed "a possible threat to the pope" but police refused to confirm or deny that. The Vatican said the trip would go ahead as planned and that the pope was calm.
Security is expected to be tight on Saturday when demonstrators protesting against the pope plan to march from Hyde Park to Downing Street, the prime minister's official London residence.
Pope Benedict is due to meet British Prime Minister David Cameron, his deputy Nick Clegg and acting opposition leader Harriet Harman, before attending a prayer vigil at the park.
POPE SPEAKS TO CIVIC LEADERS
The pope on Friday visited the parliament area, where he met with the Archbishop of Canterbury and addressed British leaders.
Hundreds of protesters along the route called him the "anti-Christ" and shouted "shame" as they held up pictures of children who were sexually abused by priests in a scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church worldwide.
Similar protests were held at a Catholic university the pope visited on Friday morning.
The six unnamed men, aged between 26 and 50, were arrested on "suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism," according to police statements.
The pope has been heavily protected during his four-day visit to Britain, traveling in a custom-built bulletproof car surrounded by security officials.
Benedict has not been the target of any serious attacks but his predecessor was almost killed in an assassination attempt in 1981 and was the subject of several other attacks.
When the pope travels outside the Vatican he is protected by the host country's police forces plus a small contingent of about a dozen Vatican security men.
The last terrorist attack in Britain was in July 2005, when four British Islamists killed 52 people and wounded hundreds by setting off suicide bombs on the transport system.
"We are totally confident in police and there are no plans to change the program," said Father Federico Lombardi. He said the pope was calm and looking forward to the rest of the visit.
The pope held talks at Lambeth Palace with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual head of the 80 million strong worldwide Anglican communion, and the two later attended an ecumenical prayer service during which he shook the hand of Jane Hedges, Canon of Westminster Abbey.
Williams and the pope, whose Churches split in 1534 and are now divided over issues such as women priests and gay bishops, both spoke of the importance of faith in society and agreed that Christianity should not be seen as a threat to freedom.
Later, the pope told British leaders, including four former prime ministers, that religion had to be a "vital contributor" to national debate on a host of issues.
(additional reporting by Maria Golovnina, Adrian Croft, Stefano Ambrogi and Bill Maclean; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)