Another suspect charged in alleged British terror plot

Friday, August 25th 2006, 6:14 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ A judge Friday ordered a 12th suspect charged in an alleged plot to use liquid explosives to down U.S. airliners over the Atlantic to be held without bail.

Umair Hussain, 24, is charged with not telling police what he knows about his brother's involvement in the alleged plot. In a brief appearance in City of Westminster Magistrates Court, he spoke only to confirm his name, age and address.

District Court Judge Daphne Wickham ordered him held until his next court appearance Sept. 1.

Hussain is accused of withholding information regarding Nabeel Hussain, 22, who prosecutor Colin Gibbs said is in police custody but so far has not been charged with any offense.

A third sibling, 24-year-old Mehran Hussain, was charged earlier with not telling police what he knows about Nabeel Hussain's involvement.

Of the 12 people charged so far, eight are accused of conspiracy to murder and preparing to commit an act of terrorism. Prosecutors say the plot involved smuggling liquid components of explosives aboard aircraft.

Hussain's lawyer, Timur Rustem, said he lodged a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Commission about the conditions in which Hussain was held while being questioned at Paddington Green Police station in north London.

``He's a cheerful soul, he's taking it quite philosophically,'' Rustem said. ``He knows it is a serious investigation.''

Earlier this week, eight people appeared in court charged with conspiracy to murder and preparing to commit acts of terrorism. Three others _ including the mother of an 8-month-old baby _ were charged with lesser offenses, including failing to disclose information. Umair Hussein was charged Thursday, bringing the number of people charged in the case to 12.

On Wednesday, British police were given another week to interrogate eight remaining suspects. Detectives can seek a judge's permission to hold suspects for up to 28 days before they must be charged or released.

All of the suspects were arrested during raids in London, Birmingham and suburban High Wycombe on Aug. 10. Five people have been released.

Britain's charity regulator on Thursday froze the bank accounts of an aid organization while it investigated its alleged links to the alleged plot. The Charity Commission said it launched a formal inquiry into Crescent Relief, which raised funds for victims of last year's earthquake in Pakistan.

Crescent Relief was registered as a British charity in 2001 and had been founded by Abdul Rauf, said a commission spokeswoman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy. Abdul Rauf's son Rashid Rauf is being held in Pakistan over his alleged key role in the jetliner plot.

The spokeswoman said the commission was investigating allegations that charity funds had been used by terrorists.

After news of the alleged plot broke, Pakistan identified Rashid Rauf as a ``key person'' in the investigation. A senior government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the case's sensitivity, described him as a ``transmitter of messages'' between an unnamed al-Qaida mastermind in Afghanistan and plotters in London.

British authorities have not said whether they believe al-Qaida was involved in the plot, but the Home Office said negotiations were continuing over the extradition to London of Rashid Rauf.

Rauf's brother, Tayib Rauf, was also arrested but was released Wednesday without charge.

In an unusual move earlier this week, senior officers revealed details of their investigation, saying detectives had recovered thousands of pieces of evidence in searches of dozens of properties and two stretches of woodland.

British police seldom disclose evidence about ongoing investigations for fear of prejudicing any future trials.

Investigators have found bombing-making chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide and electrical components during their searches, said Peter Clarke, chief of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist department.