Fri, Aug 06, 2004 - Page 1 News List

UK papers say attack planned on Heathrow

EXTREMISM A Pakistani official said suspects arrested in raids across the UK are believed to have been in the final stages of planning an assault on British airports


Suspects arrested in anti-terror raids earlier this week had been planning to attack UK airports including Heathrow, the UK's main air hub, several newspapers reported yesterday.

Several published reports said one of the 12 suspects, variously identified as Abu Eisa al-Hindi or Abu Musa al-Hindi, was believed to be a senior member of al-Qaeda.

Metropolitan Police refused to say whether al-Hindi was among those arrested.

Intelligence officials in Pakistan told reporters that they found images of Heathrow and other sites on the computers of two arrested al-Qaeda fugitives, and that this information was passed to UK officials.

It was not clear, however, if the information helped lead to the arrests of 12 suspected terrorists earlier this week in the UK.

The reports said al-Hindi, using the codename Bilal, had been in contact with Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, a computer expert arrested in Pakistan last month for alleged links to extremists.

Police arrested 13 young men in a series of raids across the UK on Tuesday, but have said nothing officially about what they were suspected of doing.

One man was released on Wednesday, while police continued to question the others at a high-security police station in west London.

London's Metropolitan Police has said the arrests were part of "continuing and extensive inquiries by police and the Security Service into alleged international terrorism."

Officials have refused to say whether the raids were linked to information Pakistani authorities recently said they had uncovered about threats to the UK and US.

Maps, photographs and other details of possible targets in the US and UK were found on computers belonging to Khan and Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian indicted for his role in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in East Africa, said two Pakistani officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A Lahore-based intelligence official involved in the investigation following the July 13 arrest of Khan said his computer contained photographs of Heathrow as well as pictures of underpasses beneath several buildings in London.

Both officials said they were unaware of any information from Khan that led directly to Tuesday's arrests in the UK.

The Times quoted an unidentified Pakistani intelligence official as saying that al-Hindi was believed to have been in the final stages of planning an attack on Heathrow.

Detailed maps of Heathrow were found on Khan's computer, The Times said.

Al-Hindi, "a senior al-Qaeda man," was arrested after information was received from Pakistani intelligence agencies, The Daily Telegraph reported, quoting an unidentified Pakistani official.

Al-Hindi was "planning some sort of operation in Britain," the official told the paper.

The Times of London reported that Khan had sent scores of encrypted messages -- including outline plans for an attack on Heathrow -- to al-Hindi.

The paper also quoted an unidentified senior Metropolitan Police official as saying that one of the men arrested on Tuesday was a "significant figure," but didn't specify whether it was al-Hindi.

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