Scotland Yard Briefing on Terror Arrests
Thursday, August 10, 2006; 1:29 PM
SPEAKER: PETER CLARKE, DEPUTY ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, ANTI-TERRORIST BRANCH, SCOTLAND YARD
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
CLARKE: ... request for restraint, and by that I mean restraint in the reporting of events so far as they relate to those who have been arrested.
We must all, all of us, please, be careful to say or do nothing that might prejudice the right of any individual to a fair trial.
The investigation has focused on intelligence, which suggested that a plot was in existence to blow up a trans-Atlantic passenger aircraft in flight. The intelligence suggested that this was to be achieved by means of concealed explosive devices smuggled onto the aircraft in hand baggage.
CLARKE: The intelligence suggested that the devices were to be constructed in the United Kingdom and taken to British airports. The number, destination and timing of the flights that might be attacked remain subject of investigation.
This has been and continues to be a fast-moving investigation. Today, actually marks the culmination of one phase of what is a major operation that has already lasted for several months and will undoubtedly last long into the future.
I can tell you that during the investigation, an unprecedented level of surveillance has been undertaken. And that surveillance has had as its objective to gather intelligence and evidence in support of the investigation.
We have been looking at meetings, movements, travel, spending, and the aspirations of a large group of people. This has involved close cooperation not only between agencies and police forces in the United Kingdom, but also internationally.
As is so often the case in these investigations, the alleged plot has global dimensions. The investigation reached a critical point last night when the decision was made to take urgent action in order to disrupt what we believe was being planned.
As always -- as always in these cases, the safety of the public was our overriding concern.
Throughout the night, a significant number of arrests were made. All the arrests were made on suspicion of the commission preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism under the Terrorism Act of 2000.
The people arrested remain in custody in London, where the investigation will be pursued by officers from the metropolitan police anti-terrorist branch.
A search is also under way at a number of business and residential premises in London and elsewhere. We do anticipate that these will take some time to complete.
You will realize, of course, that this is a very early stage in what will be a meticulous, painstaking criminal investigation. We will now be embarking on the next stage, the next stage of an investigation that will take us wherever the evidence leads.
As of when I am able to do so, I will give out information on the progress of the investigation. But please, as always, we will only release specific information when we are sure that it is correct.
I know also that you will understand that at this very early stage -- and it is very early indeed in an investigation of this scale -- it is not appropriate for me with my particular role in connection with the investigation to answer questions at this point. I must focus on the criminal investigation, on any subsequent legal process, and I must, of course (inaudible) referring to speculation. As I say, I will when it's appropriate to do so, when I'm able to do so give further information (inaudible) thank you for your attention.
Thank you very much.
Source: CQ Transcriptions © 2006, Congressional Quarterly Inc., All Rights Reserved