Counterterrorism officials — speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation — said the plot was the first of its kind to be uncovered in Britain.
The targeted victim remains in protective police custody. British news reports claim that the kidnapping was going to be an "Iraq-style" execution.
Birmingham has been the site of several recent terrorism sweeps, including summer raids that unveiled an alleged plot by several British suspects to use liquid explosives to blow up as many as 10 trans-Atlantic flights.
Birmingham is also the hometown of Britain's first Muslim soldier to be killed in Afghanistan last year — a death that prompted militant Islamist Web sites to denounce Cpl. Jabron Hashmi, 24 (pictured above), as a traitor. One site — that of extremist British sect al-Ghurabaa — posted an image of the soldier surrounded by flames.
There are 330 Muslim personnel serving in the British armed forces, according to the Defense Ministry, which would not comment on reports that the intended victim was a Muslim soldier.