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11 of 23 suspects in Britain air plot charged

Eleven people were charged Monday with conspiracy to commit murder in the alleged plot to blow up as many as 10 trans-Atlantic jetliners, British prosecutors said Monday.
/ Source: news services

Eleven people were charged Monday with conspiracy to commit murder in the alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic jetliners, and investigators found bomb-making equipment and martyrdom videos, authorities said.

One person, a woman, was released without charge.

“Since the 10th of August, we have found bomb-making equipment. There are chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, electrical components, documents and other items,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke said. “We have also found a number of video recordings — these are sometimes referred to as martyrdom videos.”

Eight people were charged with two offenses each of conspiracy to commit murder and preparing acts of terrorism. One person, a 17-year-old, was charged with possession of articles that could be used to prepare a terrorist act; two people were charged with failing to disclose information that could help prevent a terrorist act.

Security tightened
Tighter security regulations on passengers carrying hand luggage and liquids aboard planes were imposed at British and U.S. airports after police announced they had foiled the alleged plot to blow up as many as 10 trans-Atlantic flights. U.S. officials said authorities believed the suspects planned to detonate liquid explosives aboard commercial jets.

Eight of those charged are from London, according to a Bank of England list of suspects whose assets were frozen following the arrests. Two are from suburban High Wycombe, 30 miles northwest of London.

A lawyer for one suspect, 23-year-old Cossor Ali, the mother of an 8-month-old baby, was told she had been charged just before the lawyer was to file papers challenging her detention. But the case was adjourned after she was charged.

Eleven other suspects remained in custody but were not charged, said Susan Hemming, the head of the Crown Prosecution Service’s Counter Terrorism Division.

“Their position is being assessed on a regular basis with a view to considering the need to keep them in detention,” Hemming said. “We cannot yet make a decision about whether further charges will follow or if a further application for detention will be made on Wednesday as the evidential picture is continuously developing.”

“We have been carefully examining and assessing the evidence against each individual with the assistance of anti-terrorist officers in order to come to charging decisions at the earliest practicable opportunity,” she said.

Police investigating the alleged plot have gathered “substantial material” as evidence, Home Secretary John Reid said.

Police have searched a number of properties and a large stretch of woodland near London looking for evidence.

Investigation continues in Pakistan
In Pakistan, law enforcement authorities are continuing to interrogate Rashid Rauf, a Briton of Pakistani descent, over his alleged key role in the plot, officials said. Rauf’s brother, Tayib, was not among those charged, but remained in custody.

Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said British police were conducting inquiries in Pakistan but were not involved in questioning Rauf.