Another suspect charged in alleged British terror plot

Thursday, August 24th 2006, 6:03 pm
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ A 12th suspect was charged Thursday in the alleged plot to use liquid explosives to down U.S. airliners over the Atlantic, British police said.

In another development in the case, Britain's charity regulator froze the bank accounts of an aid organization while it investigated alleged links to the foiled plot.

The suspects are linked to an alleged plot to blow up as many as 10 passenger jets. The case set off major terror alerts in the United States and Britain when it was revealed two weeks ago.

Umair Hussain, 24, who was arrested Aug. 10, was charged with having information about a possible terrorist act and not disclosing it, Scotland Yard said. He will be arraigned Friday.

Eight of the other suspects appeared in court this week on charges of 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.

On Wednesday, British police were given another week to quiz eight other suspects who were arrested two weeks ago but have not yet been charged in the plot. Under British anti-terrorism law, detectives can seek a judge's permission to hold suspects for up to 28 days before they must be charged or released.

All the suspects were arrested in a series of raids in London, Birmingham and suburban High Wycombe on Aug. 10.

Meanwhile, the Charity Commission said it had launched a formal inquiry into the aid organization Crescent Relief in relation to the terrorism plot. The group raised funds for victims of last year's Pakistan earthquake.

British media outlets have reported that Crescent Relief was founded in 2000 by Abdul Rauf, whose son Rashid Rauf is being held in Pakistan over his alleged key role in the jetliner plot. Media reports have suggested that funds from the charity may have been used to support the planned attacks.

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

The Charity Commission said the group's funds had been frozen ``as a temporary and protective measure.''

``We are working with law enforcement agencies to get to the bottom of allegations of possible terrorist abuse of Crescent Relief funds,'' said Kenneth Dibble, the commission's director of legal and charity services. ``The allegations made are very serious, and we are taking this action to protect the charity's funds while the investigation is under way.''

No one answered the telephone at Crescent Relief's London offices on Thursday.

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.

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.

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

Months of surveillance had produced ``significant video and audio recordings'' about the alleged plot, he said Monday, including ``martyrdom videos'' by some of the prospective bombers.

More than 8,000 items of data storage, such as compact discs, DVDs and memory sticks, were found. A map of Afghanistan, suicide notes and books on explosives were also seized, officials said.