updated 7/3/2008 9:47:45 AM ET 2008-07-03T13:47:45

A major terrorist suspect alleged to have strong ties to Osama bin Laden has been set free on bail after spending more than seven years in jail, British officials said Thursday.

British and U.S. authorities alleged the suspect had been tied to an unsuccessful plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport and other major targets eyed by Islamic extremists.

British officials said the 45-year-old was freed from a high-security prison in Worcestershire.

British court documents refer to the suspect only as "U" due to a court order that prevents him from being publicly named. The U.S. indictment against him identifies him by one of his aliases. His real name has never been revealed in any court documents.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission on Thursday confirmed the release because an appeals court overturned a lower court ruling that would have allowed the suspect to be deported to his native Algeria.

The earlier ruling was based on the court's finding that "U" had "direct" ties to al-Qaida chief bin Laden and had also played a senior role at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan.

U.S. charges dropped
He was said to have formed his own terrorist group and forged close operational links to al-Qaida.

The suspect was also indicted on various terrorist charges in the United States, but that indictment has been withdrawn because a key witness declined to testify against him.

The court has barred journalists from identifying the terrorist organization "U" was involved with and has also kept news organizations from reporting the name of the town where he will live now that he has been set free on bail.

Other steps have been taken by the court to prevent images of "U" from being distributed to the public.

A Home Office spokeswoman said she could not comment on the case but that "very strict conditions" had been set that would limit the activities of "U" now that he is free. She spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government policy.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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