LONDON — Police detained two British Muslim converts on suspicion of terror offenses on Thursday, a UK security official said.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said it was not clear whether the arrests were related to the upcoming Olympic Games. Security is tight ahead of the London Games, which begin on July 27.
‘‘This doesn’t appear to be a big investigation, but it’s still early days,’’ he said, downplaying the importance of the arrests.
Scotland Yard identified the men as an 18-year-old and a 32-year-old, but didn’t give their names. The force said in a statement the pair was arrested early Thursday at separate addresses in east London.
A man who identified himself as a friend of the detainees identified the 18-year-old as Jamal ud-Din and said the older man was someone he knew only as ‘‘Zakariya.’’
Mizanur Rahman, 29, said the arrests ‘‘might have had something to do with the fact that they recently went canoeing’’ on the River Lee, a branch of which runs through the Olympic site in east London. He said the pair also recently went shooting with an air rifle in Essex, a largely suburban and rural county east of London.
Rahman said he saw nothing amiss with the activities. ‘‘It’s just people trying to get into the Olympic spirit,’’ he said, adding that he believed authorities would try ‘‘painting it as jihad training.’’
Rahman showed what he said was a photograph of ud-Din. The picture showed a stocky, pale-faced man with a bushy red beard and it appeared to match a man who appeared last year in a YouTube video titled ‘‘The Test of Allah by Jamal ud Deen.’’
The speaker on the video, who Rahman confirmed was ud-Din, expresses contempt for democracy and non-Muslims, admiration for Islamist firebrands including jailed Egyptian preacher Abu Hamza, and anger at the Danish cartoons which infamously caricatured Mohammed — whom Muslims revere as a prophet.
At one point the speaker approvingly quotes someone he refers to only as ‘‘the sheikh.’’
‘‘We’re not like the Christians; if you slap us on the left cheek, we’ll slap you back,’’ he tells an unseen audience.