British Police ID Most Suspects in Bombing Plot

British law enforcement officials have identified 19 of the 24 suspects in the alleged plot to blow up airplanes flying from London to the United States. One of the suspects reportedly worked at London's Heathrow International Airport, and all are part of Britain's Muslim community.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From the studios of NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

I'm Alex Chadwick. Coming up, Hillary Clinton's 2008 aspirations: could her big challenge come from Al Gore?

BRAND: First, though, British officials have identified most of the 24 suspects arrested yesterday for allegedly plotting to blow up transatlantic airliners. The Bank of England froze the assets of many of them. In Pakistan, police arrested another seven people.

The plotters allegedly planned to smuggle the liquid components of explosives onto U.S.-bound airliners. For the latest, we turn now to NPR's Rob Gifford, who is in London. And Rob, we now know the names of 19 of the 24 suspects in London. How were those names released?

ROB GIFFORD reporting:

Well, it was rather strange, Madeleine. It came on the Web site of the Bank of England. As you say, the Bank of England has frozen their assets, and their names and the areas they came from and their birth dates were put on the Web site. And Muslim groups have actually been - because many of them come from within the Muslim community - the Muslim groups have been very critical.

It's not very usual within British - in the British legal process - to name people who have not been charged with anything. So there has been some annoyance today among Muslim groups, but the people - they're mainly young people, many of them in their 20s, many of them from families, immigrant families from Pakistan, some young converts. And today what we've been hearing about them from their communities is they were just normal, young guys and no one can believe that they would've been involved in anything like this.

BRAND: And tell us more about what you've learned about the link with Pakistan in this investigation.

GIFFORD: That's right. The link with Pakistan is proving important. Again, you'll recall last years, after the 7-7 bombings on the London transport system, it emerged that a couple of the young men who blew themselves up on London underground had been to Pakistan and clearly had links with extremist groups there.

The Pakistani government has today said that they have arrested two Britons of Pakistani descent, and that they - that was within the last 10 days, and that those two men have been helping with the investigation, and the information that they gave was important in the actions that were carried out yesterday in arresting the other people here.

So there is this link between Pakistan and Britain. There are many families here of Pakistani origin, and clearly this is proving to be an area that is being investigated even more now by the British government.

BRAND: And what's going on at Heathrow? Yesterday it was chaotic. What's going on today?

GIFFORD: Still chaotic, actually. Very, very long lines, but fairly philosophical, I have to say. People there seem to be resigned to the fact that this was important. There was a big security issue here. And so while people, officials, are saying things are getting better, there is still a certain amount of chaos among the lines for the airlines.

BRAND: NPR's Rob Gifford in London. Thank you, Rob.

GIFFORD: Thanks very much, Madeleine.

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