Britain Freezes Bank Accounts of Terror Suspects

Britain remained on its highest state of alert Friday, a day after the arrest of 24 people suspected of plotting to blow up a number of airplanes heading to the United States. As part of the investigation into the alleged plot, the Bank of England froze the assets of 19 of the suspects.

Apart from the airports, there was a strange sense of business as usual in London on Friday as police began a second day of questioning of the 24 people arrested in dawn raids Thursday.

Prime Minister Tony Blair remained on vacation in the Carribean, and there have been no more briefings by senior government officials.

One of the biggest steps taken by the British government was the freezing of all financial assets belonging to 19 of the 24 men arrested. Their names have also been published.

News reports from Islamabad quote a Pakistan government official as saying seven people — including two British nationals of Pakistani origin — have been arrested. The official is also quoted as saying that the two Britons provided information about the alleged plot.

Muslim communities have been reacting to the fact that most, if not all, of those arrested come from Pakistani immigrant families. The names of all 19 people whose assets were frozen are of South Asian origin. Relations between the police and the Muslim community have been tense since four extremists blew themselves and 52 others up on the London transport system last July.

There will be continuing delays at British airports, especially Heathrow, from where the planes that the alleged plot were supposed to take off. British Airways was saying that 40 percent of its short-haul flights from Heathrow had been cancelled Friday, and 25 percent of its long-haul flights did not take to the skies.

Though officials here say they think they have arrested everyone involved in the plot, some police sources are warning that continued vigilance is needed. They warn of possible extremists in other cells, involved with other potential plots, deciding to act quicker than they otherwise would have done for fear of being exposed in the light of the U.K. arrests.

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