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"Britain, Pakistan Intensify Terror Probe"
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Britain, Pakistan Intensify Terror Probe
By DAVID STRINGER
The Associated Press
LONDON (AP) -- Pakistani authorities interrogated a key British suspect
Sunday in the alleged plot to blow up U.S.-bound passenger jetliners.
Britain's top security official said that police have gathered "substantial
material" and indicated they were close to charging some of the suspects.
Rashid Rauf, a Briton of Pakistani descent, was arrested days before
authorities said they had uncovered the plot to bomb 10 trans-Atlantic
jetliners with liquid explosives. Britain has arrested 23 people, including
a brother of Rauf.
Rauf has been described by Islamabad as a "key person" in the alleged
conspiracy. Britain announced on Aug. 10 that security services had foiled a
plan to "bring down a number of aircraft through mid-flight explosions,
causing a considerable loss of life."
Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao would not provide any details
of Rauf's interrogation. He said a British team had arrived in Pakistan but
was not involved in the investigation.
British Home Secretary John Reid indicated Sunday that criminal charges
could be filed in the next few days but did not disclose specific details.
"Police and the security authorities are content that their investigation is
rewarding substantial material which would allow them to take forward the
judicial process," Reid said in an interview with ABC-TV's "This Week."
"The police and the authorities are convinced that there was an alleged plot
here," he said. "They have intervened. And in the course of the next few
days, we'll wait and see what happens in terms of charges."
Investigators have until Monday to question two suspects, and until
Wednesday to interview 21 others. Police can ask a judge to extend the
Under British law, officers can hold terror suspects for a maximum of 28
days before charging them, if a judge approves.
New security measures threw Britain's airports into chaos in the days after
arrests were made on Aug. 10, but officials at London's Heathrow airport -
Europe's busiest and most-affected hub - said Sunday that most flights now
are operating normally.
Reid also told ABC it was "relatively simple to make quite an effective
bomb" aboard an airplane.
"It is a constant search by the terrorists to find ways around our
restrictions, around our surveillance, around our security means, around our
airports and other transportation restrictions, in order to try and defeat
our counterterrorism and to inflict the sort of damage that we've seen
before," he said.
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