Pak Global Terrorism ::Men seized ‘days before planned attack in Britain’

The five Pakistani men had been planning to stage an atrocity in April last year, but were then seized in raids: official. – AP (File Photo)

Men seized ‘days before planned attack in Britain’

Wed, 10 Mar, 2010 | Rabi-ul-Awwal 23, 1431

LONDON — Five Pakistani men linked to a terror plot similar to the attacks on the London transport system in 2005 were arrested days before they planned to strike, a hearing was told Tuesday.

A British intelligence officer, identified only as ZR, told an immigration panel that the group had been planning to stage an atrocity in April last year, but were seized in raids.

ZR compared the alleged plot to the July 7, 2005 suicide bombings on a bus and underground trains in the capital and said they also contained similarities to the 2006 plot to bomb transatlantic jets with liquid bombs.

He refused to reveal details, but said: “The overarching similar fashion was that they were all planning a terrorist attack in the UK under the direction of Al-Qaeda and these were aiming for mass casualties.”

It is the first time the intelligence services have gone on record about why the men were arrested.

Police were forced to hastily bring forward the arrests after London’s Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick accidentally revealed documents with details of the plan to photographers as he entered a briefing.

Abid Naseer, 23, and Ahmed Faraz Khan, who authorities say are a national security risk, are appealing against deportation to Pakistan.

Another three men — Shoaib Khan, Abdul Wahab Khan and Tariq Ur Rehman — have already been sent back to Pakistan and are appealing to return to Britain.

The intelligence agent told the hearing that Naseer exchanged coded emails with an Al-Qaeda operative called Sohaib while planning the attack.

He said the pair used girls’ names to cover their tracks.

Representing Naseer, lawyer Joel Bennathan said his client and Sohaib used women’s names on websites because as Muslim men this was the only way they could access certain sites.

He argued that as the subject of two of the emails was “Sohaib here”, it showed they had nothing to hide.

Bennathan told ZR: “You know, don’t you, that in Pakistan in public, senior figures in the Pakistani government have been saying ‘these boys are innocent, they should be allowed to carry on with their studies’.”

The officer replied: “The claims that these individuals are not involved in terrorism are wrong.”

MI5 claims that in their emails Naseer and Sohaib used people’s names to refer to different explosive materials needed for homemade bombs, but no bomb-making equipment or ingredients were found.

The security services claim Naseer was receiving advice via email on how to make a device.

The five men were arrested during anti-terror raids in Manchester and Liverpool in April last year. The hearing continues Wednesday. – AFP.

Courtesy : AP and AFP.

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