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Britain Charges 11, Releases 1 in Aug. 10 Case

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Britain Charges 11, Releases 1 in Aug. 10 Case


Britain Charges 11, Releases 1 in Aug. 10 Case

Britain Charges 11, Releases 1 in Aug. 10 Case

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In London, 11 people have been charged in the alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic jetliners. With the release of one woman, an additional 11 suspects remain in custody. A police spokesman says that in conducting 69 searches, officers seized 400 computers.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

Prosecutors in Britain have charged 11 people with conspiracy to commit terror acts in connection with the alleged plot to blow up airliners headed for the United States. Ten days ago, British police broke up what they say was a plan to smuggle liquid explosives aboard as many as ten aircraft.

NPR's Guy Raz reports from London.

GUY RAZ reporting:

Hyperbole is not a characteristic of British investigators, so when on August 10 a senior police officer here called the alleged terror plot unimaginable, the country took notice. But ten days on, the stirrings of skepticism began to emerge in the British press.

Many doubted the government's strong allegations and the public was growing tired of airport delays. Britain's indignant Muslim community complained its young people were being unfairly targeted. But then the announcement, delivered today by lead Crown prosecutor Susan Hemming.

Ms. SUSAN HEMMING (Lead Crown Prosecutor, Great Britain): This morning I made a decision that there was sufficient evidence and authorized with the approval of the Director of Public Prosecution the charge of 11 individuals. Eight are currently being charged with two offenses relating to the alleged plot to manufacture and smuggle the component parts of improvised explosive devices onto aircraft and assemble and detonate them on board.

RAZ: Standing beside Hemming, Peter Clark, head of the Antiterrorism Unit at the Metropolitan Police, laid out some of the material evidence uncovered.

Mr. PETER CLARK (Antiterrorism Unit Chief, Metropolitan Police): There is evidence from surveillance carried out before the 10th of August. This includes important, indeed highly significant, video and audio recordings. I can also tell you that since the 10th of August we have found bomb-making equipment. There are chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, electrical components, documents and other items. We've also found a number of video recordings. These are sometimes referred to as martyrdom videos.

RAZ: Clark's revelations were the first official confirmation of what many reporters have known from other sources. British investigators are compelled to act with discretion. Any leak to the media can compromise the case, so much of the information reporters have gathered up until today has come from Washington and Pakistan.

Still, there are questions over whether those in custody were capable of carrying out such a sophisticated plot. There is no indication that any of the suspects received high level instruction at terrorist training camps. What is becoming clear from the evidence provided by police is that some of those arrested were determined to see the plan through.

This surprises Intias Kadir(ph), a prominent member of the East London mosque that many of the suspects attended.

Mr. INTIAS KADIR (London resident): The immediate reaction was shock. I wasn't expecting this lot of people to be charged.

RAZ: Kadir had personally vouched for many of the suspects last week. He was visibly shaken today.

There are 11 other people who have not been charged, but police are expected to ask a judge on Wednesday for more time to question them. In his brief statement, Antiterror Chief Peter Clark said the investigation is not over. The scale, he said, in reference to the search for clues, is immense.

Guy Raz, NPR News, London

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Remarks by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke of Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Branch:

"This is the first time we have been able to release information about the progress of the investigation, since the morning of the arrests on 10th August.

"This is not because we have wanted to withhold information from the public on the contrary, we want to tell the public as much as we can about the terrorist threat. But we have now reached the stage where I can give you more details. I cannot give you a running commentary on the enquiry. Neither can I give details of the specific evidence against individuals. What I can give is an indication of the type of evidence that will be presented in support of the prosecution.

"First, there is evidence from surveillance carried out before 10 August. This includes important, indeed, highly significant video and audio recordings.

"I can also tell you that since 10 August we have found bomb making equipment. There are chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, electrical components, documents and other items.

"We have also found a number of video recordings - these are sometimes referred to as martyrdom videos. This has all given us a clearer picture of the alleged plot.

"However, the investigation is far from complete. The scale is immense. Enquiries will span the globe.

"The enormity of the alleged plot will be matched only by our determination to follow every lead and line of enquiry. I shall try to give you an idea of the size and complexity of this investigation.

"There have been 69 searches. These have been in houses, flats and business premises, vehicles and open spaces.

"As well as the bomb making equipment, we have found more than 400 computers, 200 mobile telephones and 8,000 items of removable storage media such as memory sticks, CDs and DVDs. So far, from the computers alone, we have removed some 6,000 gigabytes of data.

"The meticulous investigation of all this material will take many months. All the data will be analyzed.

"There will be thousands of forensic examinations and comparisons. Fingerprints, DNA, electronic data, handwriting comparisons, chemical analysis, and indeed the full range of forensic disciplines will be used.

"Aside from this particular case, we continue, working with the Security Service and others to investigate the threat from terrorism.

"I would like to reassure the public that we are doing everything we can to keep you safe, for you to live your lives without being in constant fear. However, we must be realistic. The threat from terrorism is real, it is here, it is deadly and it is enduring.

"As we all look for explanations, we cannot afford to be complacent and ignore the reality of what we face.

"These are difficult times for all communities, but I can assure you that the police service will not flinch from its duty to protect the public. More information will be given as and when it is appropriate to do so."

British Police Charge 11 in Aug. 10 Terrorism Case

London officials have charged 11 people in relation to a terrorist plot that officials say was meant to blow up airliners flying from Britain to the United States.

Police say that in addition to the evidence that led to the initial arrests on Aug. 10, they have found bomb-making equipment and so-called "martyrdom videos."

The charges range from failing to aid an investigation of suspected terrorism to conspiracy to murder and attempting to smuggle explosives aboard an aircraft.

A police spokesman says that in conducting nearly 70 searches, officers have seized 400 computers, 200 mobile phones and many more storage devices, from CDs to flash drives.

The charges filed Monday include provisions made in Britain's Terrorism Act of 2006, which it adopted after last year's transit attack in London.