UK Terror Plot Britain Names Suspects as Pakistan Announces Arrests
A day after British police averted a potentially catastrophic terrorist attack on airplanes headed to the United States, authorities named 19 suspects and froze their assets. Pakistan also announced it had arrested seven in conjunction with the plot.
The Bank of England published the names and addresses of 19 people suspected of planning to blow up several planes with liquid chemical bombs on Friday, as the government ordered their assets frozen.
The list offers the first information about the would-be mass murderers, who are aged between 17 and 35 and predominately come from east London. The names would support the suspicion that the plotters come from Britain's sizable Asian Muslim community.
Pakistan on Friday also announced on had arrested two Britons of Pakistani descent along with five other suspects thought to be involved in the plot. Pakistan said the terrorist attack was avoided following close coordination between Pakistani, British and US intelligence agencies.
"In fact, Pakistan played a very important role in uncovering and breaking this international terrorist network," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said according to Reuters. She declined to give details on those arrested in Pakistan while investigations were still underway.
Authorities have placed special emphasis on connections to Pakistan after it became known that at least two of the British Muslims involved in the terrorist bomb attacks on London subway trains and a bus that killed 52 people in July 2005 had visited the country months earlier.
In Britain, airports on Friday were slowly trying to bring their operations back to normal. At London's main airport, Heathrow, around 70 percent of flights were going ahead as scheduled. But several flights had been cancelled and passengers faced delays across the country.
"It is going to be another difficult day today, both for airports and for passengers, but there is cause for optimism that we will get more flights off today," Stephen Nelson, chief executive of the British Airports Authority, told BBC radio. "There will be queues, there will be cancellations, but we are making progress."
Airports were forced to cancel hundreds of flights on Thursday and airlines banned passengers from carrying hand luggage after reports that terrorists were planning to use common electronic devices, like iPod's, to detonate liquid explosives concealed in drink bottles.
Despite the hassles, most passengers seemed to be dealing with the new measures stoically. "I quite understand all the checks. I know why they have got to do it," Elaine Loman, who was hoping to catch a flight to Barcelona, Spain, told the Associated Press.