British police have charged eight terrorist suspects with conspiring to commit murder and use radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals or explosives to cause "fear or injury" in a case involving an alleged top al-Qaeda operative at the center of a US terror alert this month. \nUS Attorney General John Ashcroft said that federal authorities were determining whether to press charges in the United States against the men, including the top al-Qaeda suspect accused of having surveillance plans of financial institutions in New York, Washington and New Jersey. \nTuesday's charges for the first time officially linked the Aug. 3 arrests across Britain and a series of arrests last month in Pakistan to the Aug. 1 terrorism alerts surrounding the New York Stock Exchange and Citigroup Inc headquarters, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank buildings in Washington, and the Prudential Financial Inc building in Newark, NJ. \nAshcroft said the Department of Justice had been working closely with British authorities and that FBI agents and analysts would continue sharing information. \n"In addition, prosecutors from the Justice Department's Counterterrorism Section and the US Attorney's Office in Manhattan will explore every aspect of this case and evaluate whether additional charges, including potential charges in the United States, are approp-riate," Ashcroft said in a statement issued from Washington. \nA US government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 32-year-old Dhiren Barot was the key al-Qaeda suspect charged with possessing the surveillance plans. Barot has previously been identified as Abu Eisa al-Hindi or Abu Musa al-Hindi. \nUS counterterrorism officials have said that they believe Barot, known by dozens of aliases including Issa al-Britani, was the author of documents, written in fluent English, describing surveillance at US financial buildings during 2000 and 2001. The information was found on computers and in e-mails during the July raids in Pakistan. \nBarot was described as a trusted senior al-Qaeda operative who was sent in early 2001 to do surveillance on possible economic and ``Jewish'' targets in New York on the orders of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, according to US interrogations of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. \nPakistani officials said this week that Barot, known as a veteran of the Islamic militant battle against Indian forces in Kashmir, also traveled this past March to a militant hideout near the Pakistan-Afghan border and met with other terrorist suspects. \nAccording to the British police charges, Barot; Mohammed Naveed Bhatti, 24; Abdul Aziz Jalil, 31; Omar Abdul Rehman, 20; Junade Feroze, 28; Zia ul Haq, 25; Qaisar Shaffi, 25; and Nadeem Tarmohammed, 26, were accused of conspiring "with other persons unknown" to commit murder between January 2000 and Aug. 4, 2004. \nThe eight also were charged with conspiring between the same dates to cause a public nuisance by using radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals and/or explosives to cause "disruption, fear or injury." \nBarot and Tarmohammed were charged separately with possessing a reconnaissance plan of the Prudential Building in violation of the Terrorism Act. \nBarot was charged with possession of notebooks containing information on explosives, poisons, chemicals and related matters, and of a reconnaissance plan concerning the New York Stock Exchange, the International Monetary Fund, and the Citigroup building in New York. \nFollowing the Aug. 1 terror alert involving those buildings and the World Bank in Washington, the US government acknowledged it had no evidence of plans for imminent attacks. \nShaffi was charged with possessing an extract from the "Terrorist's Handbook" containing information on the preparation of chemicals, explosive recipes and other information. \nA ninth man, Matthew Philip Monks, 32, was charged with possession of a prohibited weapon. \nThe eight men were due to make a first court appearance yesterday at Belmarsh high security prison in London. \nMudassar Arani, a lawyer representing seven of the men, said they had been psychologically abused through being held in solitary confinement and in some cases stopped from reading the Koran, and claimed one had been hit in the face by police when he was arrested. \nThe Aug. 3 arrests sparked fears of a plot to attack London's Heathrow Airport, but the airport was not mentioned in the charges against the men. \nThe British raids were linked to the July arrest in Pakistan of Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, a computer engineer and al-Qaeda suspect, US and Pakistani officials have said.
Australian scientists have raised questions over the efficacy of the AstraZeneca and University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in establishing herd immunity, calling for a pause on its widespread rollout as the country recorded one new case of the virus yesterday. Opposition to the vaccine casts a cloud over Australia’s immunization plans, with 53 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab already on hand. “The question is really whether it is able to provide herd immunity. We are playing a long game here. We don’t know how long that will take,” Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology president Stephen Turner said. Turner added
A racing pigeon has survived an extraordinary 13,000km Pacific Ocean crossing from the US to find a new home in Australia. Now authorities consider the bird a quarantine risk and plan to kill it. Kevin Celli-Bird yesterday said he discovered that the exhausted bird that arrived in his Melbourne backyard on Dec. 26 last year had disappeared from a race in the US state of Oregon on Oct. 29. Experts suspect the pigeon that Celli-Bird has named Joe — after US president-elect Joe Biden — hitched a ride on a cargo ship to cross the Pacific. Joe’s feat has attracted the attention
China has possibly committed “genocide” in its treatment of Uighurs and other minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China said in a report on Thursday. The bipartisan commission said that new evidence had last year emerged that “crimes against humanity — and possibly genocide — are occurring” in Xinjiang. It also accused China of harassing Uighurs in the US. China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills, which others have called concentration camps. The UN says that
The Polish Supreme Court on Friday quashed a lower court’s green light for the extradition of a businessman to China for alleged fraud, a charge he has denied, saying that he is being targeted for supporting Falun Gong. Polish authorities took Chinese-born Swedish citizen Li Zhihui, now 53, into custody in 2019 on an international warrant issued by China for alleged non-payment in a business deal, Krzysztof Kitajgrodzki, his Polish lawyer, told reporters. Following the Supreme Court ruling, the case would return to a lower appellate court for review. Kitajgrodzki told reporters that it was still not a given that his client