British security services have foiled a terrorist plot to try and bring down the internet in the UK. It is believed that Al-Qaeda planned to destroy a high-security internet exchange in London which would have brought internet traffic in the UK to a standstill and invoked chaos across the nation.

Raids by the Metropolitan Police at the end of last year resulted in the arrests of a number of terror suspects, and the discovery of computer files detailing the complex internet destruction plan.

The terrorists involved in the gunpowder plot were targeting the main building of Telehouse Europe, which houses many large computer servers and acts as the main internet hub serving British ISPs.

The story came to light in yesterday's Sunday Times. The paper quoted an unnamed government security official as saying, "The Telehouse facility was the subject of intense reconnaissance. The evidence suggests that it was one of a range of options considered by the suspects."

The official said that a terrorist cell was planning to infiltrate the Telehouse centre, with the intention of possibly blowing it up from the inside. It is not known when exactly the terrorists planned to make the attack, or for how long they were under surveillance by the security services before they were arrested.

A special MI5 unit has been set up to protect Britain from infrastructure attacks such as this in the future. The MI5 website states: "Without [the internet], the UK could suffer serious consequences, including severe economic damage, grave social disruption, or even large-scale loss of life."

Telehouse has confirmed that it has been on a heightened state of alert since the end of 2006.