Video: 2 released, 9 held in U.K. terror plot

updated 8/23/2006 7:55:13 PM ET 2006-08-23T23:55:13

A British court on Wednesday extended the time that nine suspects in the alleged plot to blow up U.S.-bound flights can be held without charges being filed against them, officials said.

Two suspects were released without charge, Scotland Yard said. Britain's Press Association reported that the first man released was Tayib Rauf. An official with Britain's anti-terrorist unit confirmed that to the AP on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to talk to the media.

Mohammed Nazam, the owner of the grocery store where Tayib was taped and a friend of the Rauf family, also told The Associated Press that Tayib had been released. It wasn't known where Tayib was Wednesday night.

Scotland Yard said it would not comment and a call to prosecutors was not immediately returned.

Tayib's brother, Rashid Rauf, is being interrogated by law enforcement authorities in a town near the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, over his alleged key role in the plot, officials said.

Pakistani officials have linked people arrested there over the alleged conspiracy to al-Qaida militants.

Investigators have not revealed if the alleged airline plot suspects were linked to al-Qaida.

The second person released had initially been scheduled to have his detention hearing held early Thursday. His identity was not disclosed.

Police said eight suspects who have not been charged could be kept in custody until Aug. 30, giving police more time to quiz them about the plot they have said involved liquid-based explosives, while the ninth suspect had his detention extended until Thursday.

The 11 were among about two dozen people arrested Aug. 10 in police raids in London, Birmingham and High Wycombe, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of the capital. The others arrested have either been charged or released.

First use of anti-terror laws
Wednesday's court action represented the first time that police have used new anti-terrorism laws to hold suspects for more than 14 days without charge, Britain's Home Office said. The law lets officers make applications to hold terrorism suspects for a maximum of 28 days before filing charges.

Among those involved in the court action Wednesday was a suspect identified as Umair Hussain. His attorney, Timur Rustem, said Hussain was ordered held until Thursday by a high court judge.

Rustem said the judge dismissed a request that he be held for a week.

"It is good to see the system works, where a High Court judge can in some cases grant the full seven days but at the same time use discretion where, for example, it's only a circumstantial case," he told reporters.

Eleven others charged in the alleged terrorist plot appeared before a court for the first time on Tuesday.

Mother of young child charged
Eight of the men charged were accused of offenses of conspiracy to murder and preparing to commit terrorism. Three others — including the mother of an 8-month-old — are charged with lesser offenses, including failing to disclose information.

Image: U.K. terror suspects.
Priscilla Coleman  /  AP
A court drawing of those already charged in the alleged terror plot to blow up U.S.-bound airliners are from top left, Cossar Ali, Mehran Hussain, Ibrahim Savant, Wheed Zaman, middle row, Arafat Waheed Khan, Umar Islam, Ahmed Abdullah Ali, bottom row, Tanvir Hussain, Adam Khatib and Assad Ali Sarwar, as they sit in Westminster Magistrates Court in London, on Tuesday.
British detectives are attempting to stitch together thousands of pieces of information to demonstrate that they thwarted a major terrorism plot.

Officers on Wednesday began searching for evidence in an area of woodland in High Wycombe, a police spokeswoman said.

Months of surveillance had produced "significant video and audio recordings" regarding the alleged plot, London's anti-terrorism police chief Peter Clarke said Monday.

Chemicals, data discovered
He said investigators had found bomb-making chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, as well as electrical components.

More than 8,000 items of data storage, such as compact discs, DVDs and Memory Sticks, were found. Maps of Afghanistan, suicide notes and books on explosives also were seized, officials said.

Investigators said the evidence was still being examined, including fingerprints, DNA samples and handwriting.

British officials also confirmed that the plot involved the manufacture of liquid explosives, which would then be assembled and detonated on board airliners.

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