Saturday, August 19, 2006

Terror plot investigations continue

Some of the terror connections already made
British authorities continue to investigate the plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights this week. Various reports have emerged as searches of properties and areas of woodland have brought up evidence. On Thursday the BBC reported that police had found bomb making materials in woodland in High Wycombe near to where a number of the suspects had been arrested. Police refuse to comment on these and other reports that have appeared in the media [Reuters]. The BBC reported today [Saturday] that police had discovered ‘martyrdom tapes’ in the course of their investigations. A similar claim had also been made in a tabloid newspaper shortly after 24 suspects were arrested on the 10th August. Nineteen of the 24 arrested were named on the Bank of England website after their assets were frozen. They are Abdula Ahmed Ali [25], from Walthamstow, E17, Cossor Ali [23], from Walthamstow, E17, Assan Abdullah Khan [21], from Walthamstow, E17, Waheed Arafat Khan [25] from Walthamstow, E17, Osman Adam Khatib [19], from Walthamstow, E17, Muhammed Usman Saddique [24] from Walthamstow, E17, Ibrahim Savant [25], from Walthamstow, E17, Amin Asmin Tariq [23] from Walthamstow, E17, Waheed Zaman [22] from Walthamstow, E17, Nabeel Hussain [22], from Chingford, E4, Tanvir Hussein [25], from Leyton, E10, Umair Hussein [24], from London, E14, Abdul Muneem Patel [17], from Hackney, E5, Shamin Mohammed Uddin [35], from Stoke Newington, London N16, Umar Islam [28], from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, Waseem Kayani [29], from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, Shazad Khuram Ali [27], from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, Assad Sawar [26], from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and Tayib Rauf [22], from Birmingham. Of the 24 arrested, one man was released without charge the following day. A further arrest was made on the 15th of August but he too was later released without charge. Police are to continue questioning the remaining 23 suspects until later next week. So far no charges have yet been made and news media are clamoring for information about the known arrested suspects before it becomes a matter of subjudiciary. The plot to blow up planes has also been connected to Pakistan where a number of arrests have been made [BBC].
Rashid Rauf is one of 17 alleged plot suspects reportedly held in Pakistan and is a key focus of investigations. He is the brother of one of the key suspects so far arrested in the UK. The men's father, Abdul Rauf, is also reportedly being questioned by Pakistani officials. He flew to Pakistan for a wedding shortly before his son Rashid was arrested.
The bomb plot and the continued terror threat is creating an air of heightened concern within the airline industry. Even commonplace incidents are making headlines. On Thursday a young boy evaded strict airport security without a passport and was discovered on board an airline [BBC]. In another incident a passenger boarded an aircraft without authorization and was discovered by cleaning staff. He had apparently returned to retrieve items left behind but entered the wrong aircraft. On Wednesday a woman suffering a panic attack caused a terror alert on board a trans-Atlantic flight. The flight was diverted to Boston airport and the aircraft was thoroughly searched. Friday saw a security alert at a US airport and a bomb threat on board an Egypt bound charter flight. One hundred passengers were evacuated from Huntingdon Airport, West Virginia, after initial tests showed traces of explosives on two women’s baggage [BBC]. Subsequent investigations proved negative. In the other incident which was widely covered by CNN, Sky News and the BBC, a Boeing 767 was diverted to Brindisi airport in Italy after a note was found on board. No bomb was found. It is not the first such occasion that a note has caused panic. In 2003 a plane bound for New York from London was diverted to Ireland after a note was found [BBC] and in 2004 a Delta Airlines jet also bound for the US from Germany was diverted to Ireland after a note was found in the toilet [BBC].
The financial cost of these threats and the increased security has been huge. Some airlines, particularly Ryanair, have threatened to bring legal action against the UK government if security restrictions are not relaxed [BBC]. Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said the continued restrictions hand “extremists an enormous PR victory”. The UK government has so far refused to either pay compensation or “compromise security” by rescinding current restrictions on baggage. Posted by Picasa

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