U.K. Bank Freezes Assets of 19 Terror Suspects
Friday, August 11, 2006; 5:56 PM
LONDON, Aug. 11 --Britain's central bank on Friday named 19 people arrested in connection with the alleged plot to blow up passenger jets over the Atlantic Ocean as fresh details about the international counter-terrorism investigation emerged in reports from London, Washington and Pakistan. One person arrested in Britain was reportedly released without being charged.
The Bank of England identified the 19 with an announcement that it had frozen their assets--a routine measure, the bank said, designed to ferret out and halt any transactions that might aid acts of terrorism or shed light on any conspiracies. The named suspects ranged in age from 17 to 35, most of them with London addresses and the rest from High Wycombe and Birmingham. All were seized at addresses raided by British authorities Thursday, along with five others whose names remain withheld.
Late Friday, wire services reported that British authorities released one of the 24 people who had been arrested, without identifying the person. Reuters also reported that British police said on Friday they had obtained court warrants extending the detention of 22 of the suspects in the alleged plot until Wednesday. A court will consider the duration of the detention of the 24th suspect on Monday.
Meantime, airports and travelers on both sides of the Atlantic appeared to be acclimating to flight delays and cancellations amid heightened security restrictions meant to prevent terrorists from carrying the components of liquid bombs on board airplanes.
In Islamabad, wire services reported that Pakistani authorities have arrested at least seven people, including two British nationals of Pakistani origin, in connection with the alleged plot. The Associated Press reported that one of the two British suspects in custody, named Rashid Rauf, was described as a "key person" with ties to al-Qaeda.
"We arrested him from the (Afghanistan-Pakistan) border area, and on his disclosure we shared the information with British authorities, which led to further arrests in Britain," Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao told AP. The five Pakistanis were described as suspected "facilitators" of the plot.
Rauf is the brother of a suspect arrested in Birmingham named Tayib Rauf, a U.S. law enforcement official said.
There were reports of further arrests Friday in the eastern district of Bhawalpur, 300 miles southwest of Islamabad.
In Washington, officials said the FBI probe into the London plot involved more than 200 agents from across the country. The probe was so large that it resulted in a notable surge in warrants for searches and surveillance from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret panel that oversees most clandestine surveillance, officials said.
The warrants included monitoring telephone calls that some of the London suspects made into the United States, two sources said.
One official estimated that scores of secret U.S. warrants were dedicated solely to the London plot. The government usually averages of a few dozen a week for all counterintelligence investigations, according to federal statistics.
But Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Friday that investigators continued to turn up no links to the alleged plot inside the United States. "We do not have evidence that there was, as part of this plot, any plan to initiate activity inside the United States or that the plotting was done in the United States," Chertoff said at a Reagan National Airport news conference.