Eight Britons on 'terrorism' charges

Britain has charged eight nationals with planning to commit murder and public nuisance, with police accusing one of plotting attacks on US financial targets.

    Since 9/11, 15 Britons have been convicted of 'terrorism' offences

    The charges on Tuesday were the first official confirmation this month that the suspects, seized in raids two weeks ago, were linked to a high profile security scare in the US.

    All eight were accused of planning to commit murder "by the use of radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals and/or explosives to cause disruption, fear or injury", police said in a statement.
       
    One of them, Dhiren Barot, was also accused of having "reconnaissance plans" of the Prudential building in New Jersey, the New York Stock Exchange and Citigroup headquarters in New York, and the International Monetary Fund in Washington.
       
    The plans were "of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism", said the police. 
        
    Orange alert

    The US imposed "orange alerts" around those buildings on 1 August, saying authorities had obtained plans of them from a suspected al-Qaida computer expert held in Pakistan.

    The British suspects were arrested two days later.
       
    Barot also had two notebooks containing "information on explosives, poisons, chemicals and related matters", while another suspect had "an extract of the terrorism handbook". 
       

    One suspect had "an extract of the terrorism handbook"

    Police statement

    The other seven are Umar Abd Al-Rahman, Zia al-Haqq, Abd Al-Aziz Jalil, Nadim Tarmuhammad, Muhammad Bhatti, Qaisir Shaffi and Junaid Firoz.
       
    A ninth man was charged with possession of a weapon. Four others arrested at the time have been freed or charged with unrelated offences. 
       
    US assistance

    As has repeatedly been the case over the past several weeks, senior US officials had more to say about developments in London than their British counterparts.
       
    Attorney General John Ashcroft said in a statement US agents had worked closely with Britain in the matter.
       
    "We commend the United Kingdom's action today in bringing criminal charges against individuals who may have connections to potential terrorist activities in the United States."
       
    Britain's Home Secretary David Blunkett issued only a brief statement saying he was pleased police had benefited from a law change giving them additional time to charge suspects.
       
    Britain has arrested more than 600 terrorism suspects since the 9/11 attacks but has charged fewer than 100 and convicted only 15 of terrorism offences. 

    SOURCE: Reuters


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