Detectives trying to smash an international terrorism finance ring yesterday raided a property in Worthing.

Counter-terrorism officers swooped on the building as part of a co-ordinated operation involving addresses across the country.

A total of seven people were arrested on suspicion of funding terrorism overseas and money laundering through the illegal export of drugs to the US and Canada.

Searches at the Worthing address were continuing into the night yesterday.

Nicknamed Operation Iridescent, the co-ordinated operation was led by the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command and the UK Border Agency. Officers from Sussex Police also assisted in the raid.

Neither the Met Police nor Sussex Police would confirm the address where the raid took place, saying it would compromise their ongoing operation.

Police were also searching six other addresses in London and Coventry.

The searches were part of an international investigation by the US authorities into a network suspected of exporting qat to the USA and Canada.

Qat is an addictive leaf grown and widely chewed in the Horn of Africa and in Yemen that can cause insomnia, stress, depression and apathy.

The plant, whose leaves must be consumed fresh, is legal in Britain but is a controlled substance in the United States and Canada.

Police did not say where the smuggled qat came from but international authorities have previously said qat trade profits are used to fund terrorist groups like al Shabaab in Somalia.

The people arrested yesterday were a 45-year-old woman and 49-year-old man from Croydon, a 47-year-old man and 30-year-old man from Brent, a 45-year-old man and a 42-year-old man from Coventry and a 40-year-old man from Cardiff.

They were all being questioned at a central London police station last night.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “We provided assistance for the Met search of the Worthing address as part of this operation.

“We are not disclosing the address because that is a matter for |them.”