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Reports: British thwart 9/11-style terror attacks

/ Source: The Associated Press

British security services thwarted planned Sept. 11-style terror attacks on Heathrow Airport and skyscrapers in Canary Wharf, a financial district of London, according to two media reports.

But the stories, which cited unidentified sources, did not say when or where the plots were uncovered, or how close they came to being carried out.

The plans to crash planes into the two targets were among four or five attacks planned by terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network, ITV News said Monday night and the Daily Mail newspaper reported in its Tuesday editions.

ITV News also said that British authorities had disrupted training programs for suicide pilots.

Officials at Britain’s Home Office and Metropolitan Police in London refused to comment. A spokesman at Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Downing Street office said, “We never comment on security matters.”

A year and a half ago, British troops in armored vehicles surrounded Heathrow Airport. Blair’s government said that the action came in response to specific intelligence.

Last summer, Pakistan gave British officials intelligence suggesting that al-Qaida had plotted to attack Heathrow airport. The information was found on the computers of two accused members of Osama bin Laden’s terror network arrested in Pakistan. The computers held images of Heathrow.

On Nov. 8, the head of the MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller, said that counterterrorism efforts have helped to prevent attacks in Britain since the Sept. 11, 2001, but she offered no details.