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The Captive British Mind


Question: Do you possess, or have your ever possessed, information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing to commit an act of terrorism, including (though by no means limited to) a “plot to commit murder and to cause mayhem with chemicals, radioactive materials, toxic gases or explosives” (here lifting a line from Associated Press)?

Yesterday (Aug. 17), the British Government charged eight of its citizens with variations of this crime. Today, it hauled all eight of them before London’s Belmarsh Magistrates Court, where they were ordered detained until a second hearing August 25.

All eight of these men were part of a large-scale roundup of British citizens that netted as many of 13 people on August 3—three days after the U.S. Government ordered heightened terror alert statuses for specific districts within three American cities (i.e., specific buildings within the so-called financial services sectors of New York, Washington, D.C., and Newark).

Within the first 24 hours of the U.S. Government’s August 1 action, it began to be widely reported that “Much of the information that led the authorities to raise the terror alert at several large financial institutions…was three or four years old,” forcing “intelligence and law enforcement officials” to concede “that they had not found concrete evidence that a terrorist plot or preparatory surveillance operations were still under way.” (Douglas Jehl and David Johnson, “Reports That Led to Terror Alert Were Years Old, Officials Say,” New York Times, Aug. 3.) It was during the immediate fallout from this revelation—actually, as much was admitted by briefers of the Department of Homeland Security the very same day that officials began to monkey with the terror alert levels (see “Background Briefing by Senior Intelligence Officials,” wherein this is asserted at least twice)—that the British Government’s MI5 domestic intelligence agency and London’s Metropolitan Police conducted the series of raids that led to the arrest of the 8 individuals paraded through Court today.

I have suspected from the very beginning that the August 3 arrests by British authorities of the men now charged with various crimes—including at least three charged with the intent to commit terrorism (as best I can tell at the moment)—belonged to a larger effort on the part of the American authorities to contain the disclosure that the August 1 terror alert warning was an exercise in politically motivated scare-mongering—not a security-related decision.

Hence my suspicion has been that the political fallout from the recognition in the States that the August 1 terror-alert warning was a fraud motivated the Americans to kick somebody in the butt (the British, in this case), and to get them to rush out and perform yet another politically-motivated spectacle in the “War on Terror,” just to take the heat off the Americans over the false terror scare of August 1.

Because the August 1 terrorist scare was immediately exposed for what it really was, because the Bush regime’s credibility on all “intelligence”-related questions is completely in the crapper, and because the Government of Tony Blair is abjectly subservient to American Power, the British Government was marshaled to go out an arrest a bunch of British Muslims on command.

Of course, we will have to wait and see how all of this eventually plays out going forward. But as the U.S. Attorney General—and arch-debauchee—John Ashcroft affirmed in a statement that greeted the publication of the terrorism charges in London (Aug. 17, 2004):

For several weeks, the Department of Justice has been working closely and cooperatively on this important matter with British authorities and other partners in the war against terror. We commend the United Kingdom’s action today in bringing criminal charges against individuals who may have connections to potential terrorist activities in the United States. We expect these charges will result in the continued safe detention of these individuals. Our expert team of agents and analysts from the FBI will continue to share information and expertise with their British colleagues. In addition, prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section and the U.S. 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 appropriate. Working with our allies, we will continue to take every measure to protect the people of the United States and safeguard their liberties, in this time of heightened terrorist threat.

At this stage in the imploding debauchery of the White House, nothing would surprise me.

Absolutely nothing.

(See also The Captive American Mind; and The Captive New York Times)

FYA (“For your archives”): Am depositing here a sample of mainstream print media reporting on the various topics discussed above. Please note that by far the bulk of it betrays extreme gullibility in the face of the avalanche of allegations about “surveillance plans,” “ties of Al Qaeda,” plots to blow up Americans—not to mention a certain glazing over of the eyes when confronted with the demonized names of people who come from certain parts of the world. These days, the U.S. Government seems to govern from one terrorist threat to the next. More evidence—should any be necessary—that the “kind of information available to us today is the result of the President’s leadership in the war against terror” (Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, Aug. 1).

United Press International
August 17, 2004 Tuesday
HEADLINE: Anti-terror police in London charge eight
DATELINE: LONDON, Aug. 17 (UPI)

Eight men in Britain have been charged with a series of offences including having reconnaissance plans for the New York Stock Exchange and other targets.

The men have been charged with conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to commit a public nuisance by using radioactive material, toxic gas, chemicals or explosives, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The suspects, arrested Aug. 3, are to appear in court Wednesday, Scotland Yard said.

A ninth man, also arrested with the group, was charged with possession of a prohibited weapon.

Dhiren Barot, believed to be a member of al-Qaida, was charged with possessing reconnaissance plans of the Stock Exchange in New York, the International Monetary Fund in Washington, Citigroup in New York, and the Prudential Building in New Jersey, as well as having notebooks with information on explosives, poisons, chemicals and related matters, police said.

British investigators said the plans contained “information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism contrary to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000.”

However, no explosives, toxic gases or radiological materials were seized in the arrests, a police official told the New York Times.

_______________________________
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Press Association
August 18, 2004, Wednesday 06:39 AM Eastern Time
HEADLINE: FIRST SUSPECT IN COURT ON TERROR PLOT CHARGES
BYLINE: Nick Allen and James Tapsfield, PA News

One of the eight men charged with plotting terrorist outrages in Britain and the United States appeared in court today.

Abdul Aziz Jalil, who has been questioned for two weeks at the high-security Paddington Green police station in London, appeared in the dock at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court.

Jalil, 31, of Luton, Bedfordshire, and seven others are jointly charged with conspiracy to murder, and planning to use radioactive materials, chemicals, toxic gases or conventional explosives in an attack. The other men are due to appear in court later.

Dhiren Barot, 32, from Willesden, north west London, was charged under the Terrorism Act with having reconnaissance plans “which could have been used as a blueprint for an attack on financial institutions in the United States”.

The plans are alleged to have involved the New York Stock Exchange, Citigroup in New York and the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC.

Barot is also alleged to have been in possession of two notebooks containing information on explosives, poisons and chemicals.

He and and Nadeem Tarmohammed, 26, also from Willesden, were also charged jointly under the Terrorism Act with having reconnaissance plans of the Prudential Building in New Jersey.

Another man, Quaisar Shaffi, 25, also of Willesden, was charged under the Terrorism Act over possession of an extract from the “Terrorist Handbook”, a bomb-making guide available on the internet.

Jalil, Barot, Tarmohammed and Shaffi were jointly charged with plotting to murder and use explosives or toxic devices with four other men.

They were Omar Abdul Rehman, 20, of Bushey, Hertfordshire; Zia Ul Haq, 25, of Paddington, London; Mohammed Naveed Bhatti, 24, of Harrow, Middlesex; and Junade Feroze, of Blackburn, Lancashire.

The other men are due to appear before a district judge at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court later.

Press Association
August 18, 2004, Wednesday 04:38 AM Eastern Time
HEADLINE: EIGHT IN COURT ON TERROR PLOT CHARGES
BYLINE: James Tapsfield, PA News

Eight men arrived at court today under a heavy police escort to face charges of plotting terrorist outrages in Britain and the United States.

The first members of the group, who have been questioned for two weeks at the high-security Paddington Green police station in London, arrived at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court in two vans accompanied by police cars with a helicopter flying overhead.

The eight are jointly charged with conspiracy to murder, and planning to use radioactive materials, chemicals, toxic gases or conventional explosives in an attack.

Dhiren Barot, 32, from Willesden, north-west London, was charged under the Terrorism Act with having reconnaissance plans “which could have been used as a blueprint for an attack on financial institutions in the United States”.

The plans are alleged to have involved the New York Stock Exchange, Citigroup in New York and the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC.

Barot is also alleged to have been in possession of two notebooks containing information on explosives, poisons and chemicals.

He and Nadeem Tarmohammed, 26, also from Willesden, were also charged jointly under the Terrorism Act with having reconnaissance plans of the Prudential Building in New Jersey.

Another man, Quaisar Shaffi, 25, also of Willesden, was charged under the Terrorism Act over possession of an extract from the “Terrorist Handbook”, a bomb-making guide available on the internet.

Barot, Tarmohammed and Shaffi were jointly charged with plotting to murder and use explosives or toxic devices with five other men.

They were Omar Abdul Rehman, 20, of Bushey, Hertfordshire; Zia Ul Haq, 25, of Paddington, London; Abdul Aziz Jalil, 31, of Luton, Bedfordshire; Mohammed Naveed Bhatti, 24, of Harrow, Middlesex; and Junade Feroze, of Blackburn, Lancashire.

The group are due to appear before a district judge at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court later.

Associated Press Worldstream
August 18, 2004 Wednesday 6:25 AM Eastern Time
HEADLINE: Eight terror suspects linked to U.S. alert face first court appearance
BYLINE: JILL LAWLESS; Associated Press Writer
DATELINE: LONDON

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-Qaida operative at the center of a U.S. terror alert this month.

U.S. 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-Qaida suspect accused of having surveillance plans of financial institutions in New York, Washington and New Jersey.

Tuesday’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, N.J.

Ashcroft said the Department of Justice had been working closely with British authorities and that FBI agents and analysts would continue sharing information.

“In addition, prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section and the U.S. 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 appropriate,” Ashcroft said in a statement issued from Washington.

A U.S. government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 32-year-old Dhiren Barot was the key al-Qaida suspect charged with possessing the surveillance plans. Barot has previously been identified as Abu Eisa al-Hindi or Abu Musa al-Hindi.

U.S. 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 U.S. financial buildings during 2000 and 2001. The information was found on computers and in e-mails during the July raids in Pakistan.

Barot was described as a trusted senior al-Qaida operative who was sent in early 2001 to do surveillance on possible economic and “Jewish” targets in New York on the orders of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, according to U.S. interrogations of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Pakistani 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 hide-out near the Pakistan-Afghan border and met with other terrorist suspects.

According 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.

The 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.”

Barot and Tarmohammed were charged separately with possessing a reconnaissance plan of the Prudential Building in violation of the Terrorism Act.

Barot 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.

Following the Aug. 1 terror alert involving those buildings and the World Bank in Washington, the U.S. government acknowledged it had no evidence of plans for imminent attacks.

Shaffi was charged with possessing an extract from the “Terrorist’s Handbook” containing information on the preparation of chemicals, explosive recipes and other information.

The eight men were due to make a first court appearance Wednesday at Belmarsh high security prison in London.

A ninth man arrested in the same police sweep was the first to appear in court Wednesday, on a charge unrelated to terrorism.

Matthew Philip Monks, 32, pleaded not guilty to possessing a prohibited weapon, described by police as an air pistol. Monks, who faces a possible six-month sentence, was released on bail and a trial was set for Sept. 29.

Prosecutors said Monks had not tried to convert the pistol into a conventional handgun and had no ammunition.

Mudassar Arani, a lawyer representing seven of the other eight terrorist suspects, said they had been psychologically abused through being held in solitary confinement and in some cases stopped from reading the Quran, and claimed one had been hit in the face by police when he was arrested.

The 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.

The British raids were linked to the July arrest in Pakistan of Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, a computer engineer and al-Qaida suspect, U.S. and Pakistani officials have said.

Maps, photographs and other details of possible targets in the United States and Britain were found on computers belonging to Khan and to Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian indicted for his role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa, who also was arrested in Pakistan, according to the officials.

Associated Press reporter Ted Bridis in Washington contributed to this story.

The Independent (London)
August 18, 2004, Wednesday
SECTION: First Edition; NEWS; Pg. 2
HEADLINE: EIGHT ACCUSED OF PLOTTING UK TERROR ATTACK
BYLINE: JASON BENNETTO CRIME CORRESPONDENT
HIGHLIGHT: Prudential Plaza, the financial firm’s world headquarters, in Newark, New Jersey, was said to be a target AP

EIGHT SUSPECTED terrorists were charged yesterday with conspiring to commit murder and plotting to launch radioactive, explosive or chemical attacks in Britain.

One of the men was also charged with having reconnaissance plans which could have been used in an attack on four financial institutions in the United States, including the New York Stock Exchange. Another man was accused of having an extract from the Terrorist’s Handbook which contained information on preparing chemicals and explosives.

The men were among 13 people arrested on 3 August in raids by MI5 and the Metropolitan Police anti-terrorist branch in London, Bushey in Hertfordshire, Luton in Bedfordshire and Blackburn, Lancashire. They were charged yesterday at the high-security Paddington Green police station in London after being held for two weeks.

The eight men are Dhiren Barot, 32, from Willesden, north-west London, Omar Abdul Rehman, 20, from Bushey, Zia Ul Haq, 25, of Paddington, west London, Abdul Aziz Jalil, 31, from Luton, Nadeem Tarmohammed, 26, from Willesden, Mohammed Naveed Bhatti, 24, from Harrow, north-west London, Quaisar Shaffi, 25, from Willesden, and Junade Feroze, from Blackburn. They are charged with conspiring together and with unknown suspects to murder unnamed “other persons” between January 2000 and August this year.

A second charge accuses them of plotting to use “radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals and explosives” to cause disruption, fear or injury. Both charges were made under the Criminal Law Act 1977 and carry a maximum life sentence.

Mr Barot is charged with having “reconnaissance plans” for the International Monetary Fund building in Washington, the Citigroup financial institution office and the Stock Exchange in New York which would be likely to be useful to a person committing, or preparing, an act of terrorism. As well as the alleged plans – which he is accused of obtaining between 19 February 2001, and 4 August, 2004 – he is charged with having two notebooks containing information on explosives, poisons, and chemicals. He is also charged, along with Mr Tarmohammed, of possessing a “reconnaissance plan” of the Prudential building in New Jersey, “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”, and two notebooks containing material on explosives, poisons, and chemicals.

Mr Shaffi was further charged under the Terrorism Act with possessing an extract from the Terrorist’s Handbook. All eight will appear in custody at Bow Street magistrates’ court, which will be sitting at Belmarsh high- security court in south-east London today.

A ninth man, Matthew Philip Monks, 32, from Sudbury, north-west London, who was arrested during the anti-terror raids two weeks ago and questioned at Paddington Green was charged with possessing a banned weapon.

Mudassar Arani, solicitor for seven of the men, claimed they had been psychologically abused by being held in solitary confinement and, in some cases, stopped from reading the Koran. She also claimed that one of her clients had been hit in the face by police when he was arrested.

Under new law in the Terrorism Act 2000, suspects can be held for a maximum of two weeks from the time of arrest. The nine suspects were held for the full 14 days and were charged after time allowed to question them without charge ran out.

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, said yesterday that he was being kept fully informed about the case. “I have been kept regularly updated throughout the investigations,” he said. “We must now let the judicial process take its course.”

Los Angeles Times
August 18, 2004 Wednesday
Home Edition
SECTION: MAIN NEWS; Foreign Desk; Part A; Pg. 3
HEADLINE: The World;
Britain Indicts 8 on Charges of Terrorism;
The suspects are accused of conspiring to commit murder and having papers said to be plans for attacking financial institutions in the U.S.
BYLINE: Janet Stobart, Times Staff Writer
DATELINE: LONDON

Eight suspected terrorists were charged Tuesday with conspiracy to commit murder and possession of documents said to be plans for attacks on prominent financial institutions in the United States, Scotland Yard announced.

A ninth was charged with possessing an illegal weapon.

The nine men were among 13 arrested Aug. 3 in raids in northern and southern England.

The charges followed arrests in Pakistan, which were cited by U.S. officials as one reason for issuing terrorism alerts for the New York Stock Exchange and Citigroup Inc. offices in New York, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington and the Prudential Financial Inc. building in New Jersey.

The alert status in the U.S. was raised Aug. 1 after Pakistan arrested several suspected Al Qaeda militants, including Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, a computer technician and communications coordinator.

Plans of what officials said were potential targets in the United States were found in his computer materials.

U.S. Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft praised the British charges, saying officials would decide whether to bring U.S. charges as well.

“Working with our allies, we will continue to take every measure to protect the people of the United States and safeguard their liberties, in this time of heightened terrorist threat,” Ashcroft said in a statement.

Of the 13 men arrested in Britain, two were released and two were questioned on non-terrorism-related accusations.

One of those four was held on immigration charges. The remaining nine were remanded to London’s high-security Paddington Green police station and then taken to Belmarsh Prison.

Authorities identified the men charged under the Terrorism Act of 2000 and the Criminal Law act as Dhiren Barot, 32, Nadeem Tarmohamed, 26, and Qaisar Shaffi, 25, all of Willesden, north London; Zia ul Haq, 25, of Paddington, London; Omar Abdul Rehman, 20, of Bushey, northwest of London; Abul Aziz Jalil, 31, of Luton, northwest of London; Junade Feroze, 28, of Blackburn, in northern England; and Mohammed Naveed Bhatti, 24.

Under the Criminal Law act, the men were charged with conspiracy “together with other persons unknown to murder other persons” and to “commit public nuisance by the use of radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals and/or explosives to cause disruption, fear or injury.”

Under the Terrorism Act of 2000, they were charged with possession of documents or records of information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Barot, who used several aliases, including Abu Eisa al Hindi, has been called a senior Al Qaeda operative in numerous published reports. He and Tarmohamed are alleged to have had reconnaissance plans for the Prudential Building in Newark.

This was a document “containing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism contrary to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000,” according to the charges.

Barot was also said to have had two notebooks with information on explosives, poisons, chemicals and “related matters containing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.”

Shaffi was also said to hold an excerpt of a terrorist handbook with information on chemicals and recipes and information on explosives “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.”

After their arrest, the men were held for 14 days, the maximum time permitted under the Terrorism Act.

They are scheduled to appear in Magistrates Court today; the court adjoins the maximum-security Belmarsh Prison.

The lawyer for seven of the men, Mudassar Arani, said her clients were psychologically and physically abused by police during their detention.

According to a report in Monday’s Guardian newspaper, she said the men were kept in solitary confinement for two weeks.

“It’s an abuse — detention is not there to psychologically break them,” she said.

She also alleged that only two of the men faced specific accusations, including that they were members of the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

Police refused to confirm this or any reports that Barot is a leading Al Qaeda member.

The ninth man, who was charged with possessing an illegal weapon, was identified as Matthew Monks of Sudbury, London.

During their detention, the men were visited by Dawud Noiba, chairman of the Council for the Welfare of Muslim Prisoners, according to the Guardian.

The men are all believed to be British, a police spokesman said.

Britain has arrested more than 600 people on terrorism charges since Sept. 11, 2001. Of those, about 100 have been charged with terrorism offenses and 14 convicted. The rest have been released.

Times staff writer Josh Meyer contributed to this report from Washington.

The New York Times
August 18, 2004 Wednesday
Late Edition – Final
SECTION: Section A; Column 6; Foreign Desk; Pg. 1
HEADLINE: BRITISH CHARGE 8 WITH CONSPIRACY IN A TERROR PLOT
BYLINE: By PATRICK E. TYLER; Don Van Natta Jr. and Richard A. Oppel Jr. contributed reporting from London for this article, and Eric Lipton from Washington.
DATELINE: LONDON, Aug. 17

The British police charged eight men on Tuesday with conspiracy to murder and with violations of the Terrorism Act after finding that two of them possessed surveillance information on financial centers in Washington, New York and New Jersey that were the focus of the terror alert earlier this month in the United States.

The eight men were arrested Aug. 3 and have been held at a high-security police facility in West London. Under the two-week deadline set by the Terrorism Act, the police had until Tuesday to bring charges against the men or release them.

They were also charged with conspiring to use ”radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals and explosives” to cause fear, panic and disruption against unspecified targets.

One of the men was charged with having a ”terrorist’s handbook” on explosives. They will make a court appearance on Wednesday at Belmarsh Prison in Southeast London.

A statement issued by Scotland Yard made no assertion that the police had interrupted an active or specific plot against any of the financial center targets in the United States, or that the suspects had access to explosives, toxic gases or radioactive materials. A police official said no such material had been seized.

But the fact that two of the suspects, arrested two days after the alert was announced in Washington, were found in possession of surveillance information on the same five American financial centers that had been the object of that alert alarmed American and British officials, who are still pressing the investigation.

”The British were very concerned,” a senior European counterterrorism official said. ”They have apprehended what they feel is a live cell.” But it remains unclear what if any actions were taken by those arrested in preparation for any specific terrorist act.

The two suspects who were found to possess surveillance information on American targets were charged under a section of the Terrorism Act of 2000 that prohibits possession of data ”useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.”

Among the eight men was an alleged ranking operative of Al Qaeda whom American law enforcement officials had earlier identified by an alias, Issa al-Hindi, which means Issa the Indian. British officials said one of the men they were charging, Dhiren Barot, 32, was known as Issa al-Hindi and was believed to be a senior Qaeda representative in Britain.

Mr. Barot is also believed to have conducted surveillance activities in the United States in 2000 and early 2001 under the alias Issa al-Britani, or Issa the Briton, according to the report of the Sept. 11 commission. That surveillance, of targets other than the World Trade Center, was ordered by Osama bin Laden and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the commission report.

The terror alert in the United States was elevated on Aug. 1 after Pakistani authorities made a series of arrests of Qaeda militants.

Among them was a 25-year-old computer technician, Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, in whose possession the police found a large and detailed computerized archive of surveillance information on the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, the Citigroup tower in Manhattan, the New York Stock Exchange and the Prudential Building in New Jersey.

Police officials said that while there was an obvious connection between the Pakistan surveillance data and information seized in Britain, they declined to elaborate on how pieces of a suspected terror puzzle on three continents might fit together.

The senior European counterterrorism official did say Mr. Khan’s computerized files had helped the British authorities identify some of the suspects charged Tuesday.

The Scotland Yard statement said two of those suspects acquired surveillance data on the American financial centers on Feb. 19, 2001, which is in the period when Mr. Barot was said to have been sent to the United States to conduct surveillance for senior Qaeda plotters.

That at least raises the question of whether he was an active surveillance operative seeking to refine reconnaissance of targets that might be attacked in the United States in the future, one Western official said.

Officials in New York said the British authorities’ time frame somewhat preceded the time that New York officials suspected that the surveillance had taken place.

”That squares with what we had understood earlier,” said Paul J. Browne, a deputy commissioner at the New York Police Department.

In Washington, Attorney General John Ashcroft praised the British authorities for the arrests.

The eight men were identified as Mr. Barot; Omar Abdul Rehman, 20; Zia Ul Haq, 25; Abdul Aziz Jalil, 31; Nadeem Tarmohammed, 26; Mohammed Naveed Bhatti, 24; Quaisar Shaffi, 25; and Junade Feroze, 28.

A ninth man, Matthew Philip Monks, 32, was charged with firearms possession.

In a statement, Mr. Ashcroft said the Justice Department ”will explore every aspect of this case and evaluate whether additional charges, including potential charges in the United States, are appropriate.”

In London, a police official said the investigation of the alleged conspiracy ”is still very much ongoing.”

A police official said computers had been seized in searches that coincided with the Aug. 3 arrests in London. Scotland Yard officials charged Mr. Barot and Mr. Tarmohammed with possession of ”a reconnaissance plan” concerning the Prudential Building in New Jersey.

But Mr. Barot alone was charged with possession of a reconnaissance plan for the Stock Exchange, the International Monetary Fund and the Citigroup building. He was also charged with possessing two notebooks ”containing information on explosives, poisons, chemicals and related matters” that would be helpful to anyone planning a terrorist attack.

The terrorist handbook was found in the possession of Mr. Shaffi. It included information on ”preparation of chemicals, explosive recipes and other information about explosives.”

GRAPHIC: Chart: ”Eight Suspects, Five Charges”Eight men were charged in Britain on Tuesday in what officials said may have been a plot to attack financial buildings in the United States.The Charges1. Conspiracy to Murder2. Conspiracy to Commit Public DisturbanceUsing radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals or explosives.3. Possession of Documents Usable in Planning Terror AttacksNamely a reconnaissance plan for the Prudential Building in New Jersey.4. Possession of Documents Usable in Planning Terror AttacksNamely reconnaissance plans for the New York Stock Exchange
the International Monetary Fund in Washington
and the Citigroup building in New York. Also, notebooks with information on explosives.5. Possession of Documents Usable in Planning Terror AttacksPossession of an explosives manual called ”The Terrorist’s Handbook.”The SuspectsAccused of each chargeDHIREN BAROT (thought to also use the name Issa al-Hindi), 32: 1, 2, 3, 4.NADEEM TARMOHAMMED, 26: 1, 2, 3.QUAISAR SHAFFI, 25: 1, 2, 5.MOHAMMED NAVEED BHATTI, 24: 1, 2.JUNADE FEROZE, 28: 1, 2.OMAR ABDUL REHMAN, 20: 1, 2.ZIA UL HAQ, 25: 1, 2.ABDUL AZIZ JALIL, 31: 1, 2.(Source by Scotland Yard)(pg. A10)

The Times (London)
August 18, 2004, Wednesday
SECTION: Home news; 1
HEADLINE: Gang charged with plot to hit UK with ‘dirty bomb’
BYLINE: Stewart Tendler, Michael Evans and Daniel McGrory

Eight in court after officials gave warning of al-Qaeda threat

EIGHT British men will appear in court today charged with plotting terrorist attacks against targets in the UK using radioactive “dirty bombs”, poison gas and chemicals.

One of the men is alleged to have had reconnaissance plans for attacks on financial institutions in three US cities. Another is charged with possessing an extract from a terrorist handbook that gives details of how to prepare chemicals and recipes for explosives.

The eight, all Muslims, face charges of conspiracy to commit murder in Britain and will appear at a high-security court in South London today. The men, aged between 20 and 32, were arrested two weeks ago in one of the biggest counter-terrorist operations against suspects linked to al-Qaeda.

After being held and questioned at Paddington Green police station in West London the men were jointly charged with plotting murder and “the use of radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals and/or explosives to cause disruption, fear or injury”. They had been seized in a series of armed raids in London, the Home Counties and Lancashire.

Their arrest came days after US officials had given warning that al-Qaeda was planning attacks against a number of landmark buildings.

The alleged terrorism target list includes the New York Stock Exchange, the Citigroup building in New York, the International Monetary Fund headquarters in Washington and the Prudential Building in New Jersey. The alert came from Tom Ridge, the US Homeland Security Secretary, on August 1. He said that he was raising the terrorism alert level for financial institutions in New York, Newark and Washington because of intelligence about potential terrorist attacks.

It is understood that the US authorities may apply for extradition against some of those charged. Senior US officials have already held high-level talks with Home Office lawyers and the police.

John Ashcroft, the US Attorney-General, said that he is considering whether to bring charges in America against some of these men. “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 appropriate,” he said.

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, who is on holiday in Italy, said: “I have been kept regularly updated throughout the investigations. We must now let the judicial process take its course.”

The British security and intelligence services, MI5, MI6 and GCHQ all participated in the investigation, which also involved close co-operation with the CIA and the Pakistani intelligence service.

The greatest concern in all the counter-terrorism operations since the September 11 attacks has been the threat of an unconventional terrorist act using chemical, biological or radiological devices that could cause long-term pollution and widespread panic.

Dhiren Barot, 32, who converted to Islam, is charged with possessing reconnaissance plans of the US financial buildings and having notebooks with information on explosives, poisons, chemicals and related matters. He was arrested as he went into a beauty parlour near his home in Willesden, northwest London.

Qaisar Shaffi, 25, also from Willesden, is charged with owning an extract from a terrorist’s handbook, which explains the use of chemicals and explosive devices.

The others charged are: Mohammed Naveed Bhatti, 24, Abdul Aziz Jalil, 31, Omar Abdul Rehman, 20, Junade Feroze, 28, Zia ul Haq, 25, and Nadeem Tarmohammed, 26.

The police statement said the men “conspired together and with other persons unknown to murder other persons”. A ninth man, Matthew Philip Monks, 32, was charged with having a prohibited weapon.

Two of the 13 men arrested during the raids on August 3 were freed without charge; two more are no longer being questioned under the Terrorism Act but were rearrested on suspicion of other offences. One has now been charged with possession of a forged document and the other has been bailed on suspicion of possession of a forged paper.

Mudassar Arani, solicitor for seven of the men, said that they had been psychologically abused through being held in solitary confinement and in some cases stopped from reading the Koran. She also said that one of her clients had been hit in the face by police.

Scotland Yard would not say last night whether they are looking for any more suspects as part of this operation.

Police in Pakistan are still questioning Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, who is suspected of being a communications expert for al-Qaeda.

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Associated Press Worldstream
August 18, 2004 Wednesday 8:03 PM Eastern Time
HEADLINE: Eight terror suspects linked to U.S. alert appear in court
BYLINE: JILL LAWLESS; Associated Press Writer
DATELINE: LONDON

Eight suspects, including a man identified in the United States as a senior al-Qaida figure, appeared in court under heavy guard, as police investigated an alleged plot to commit murder and to cause mayhem with chemicals, radioactive materials, toxic gases or explosives.

Police were searching around 100 computers and thousands of files, suggesting a protracted investigation that could produce more charges against the suspects, seized in raids across England two weeks ago, a prosecutor said.

The eight suspects, including an alleged al-Qaida operative linked to a terrorist alert in the United States this month, did not enter pleas Wednesday and were ordered detained until a court appearance on Aug. 25.

Prosecution lawyer Sue Hammond said the eight were prepared to commit “extreme acts” in the name of their “strong and deeply held beliefs.”

They are charged with conspiracy to murder, and with conspiracy to cause a public nuisance by using radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals or explosives to cause “disruption, fear or injury.”

Some British newspapers on Wednesday spoke of a “dirty bomb plot,” but prosecutors have released no details about alleged conspiracy. Hammond said the suspects “may have been sourcing materials for their project,” and that police were involved in a complex investigation that included searching computer files and other records and interviewing shopkeepers.

“We have only hit the tip of the iceberg as far as a lot of this evidence goes,” she said.

The men, aged between 19 and 32, were brought to the high-security Belmarsh Magistrates Court in armored police vans, escorted by police cars and shadowed by a helicopter. They wore prison-issue sweat pants and white shirts and spoke only to confirm names and ages during their brief appearances.

None of the defense lawyers applied for bail. Kirsten Johnson, speaking for lawyers representing six of the defendants, said the charges “will be fully contested.”

Mudassar Arani, another lawyer who represents seven of the defendants, said she had made a formal complaint about their treatment in custody, including the removal of glasses that meant several had been unable to pray or read the Quran.

The conspiracy charges were filed under ordinary British criminal law, but three suspects also face charges under the Terrorism Act.

Dhiran Barot, 32, is charged with possessing reconnaissance plans for the New York Stock Exchange, the International Monetary Fund in Washington, the Citigroup building in New York and the Prudential building in New Jersey; and with possessing notebooks containing information on explosives, poisons, chemicals and related matters “of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.”

U.S. officials claim Barot is a senior al-Qaida figure, known variously as Abu Eisa al-Hindi, Abu Musa al-Hindi and Issa al-Britani, who scouted prominent financial targets in the United States at the behest of Osama bin Laden.

The buildings for which he allegedly had plans, along with the World Bank in Washington, were identified by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge on Aug. 1 as targets in possible terrorist plots uncovered by new intelligence.

According to U.S. interrogations of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Barot was described as a trusted senior al-Qaida operative who was sent in early 2001 to do surveillance on possible economic and “Jewish” targets in New York.

U.S. counterterrorism officials have said they believe Barot was the author of documents, written in fluent English, describing surveillance at U.S. financial buildings during 2000 and 2001. The information was found on computers and in e-mails seized during July raids in Pakistan.

Pakistani officials said this week that Barot, known as a veteran of the Islamic militant battle against Indian forces in Kashmir, also traveled in March to a militant hide-out near the Pakistan-Afghan border and met with other terrorist suspects.

Nadeem Tarmohammed, 26, was charged along with Barot with possessing plans of the Prudential building. Qaisar Shaffi, 25, was charged with possessing an extract from the “Terrorist’s Handbook” on the preparation of chemicals, explosive recipes and other information.

Barot; Tarmohammed; Shaffi; Mohammed Naveed Bhatti, 24; Abdul Aziz Jalil, 31; Omar Abdul Rehman, 20; Junade Feroze, 28; and Zia ul Haq, 25 are all accused of conspiring “with other persons unknown” to commit murder between January 2000 and Aug. 4, 2004, and with conspiring to cause a public nuisance between the same dates.

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said Tuesday that federal authorities were considering whether to press charges in the United States against the men and to seek their extradition.

A ninth man, Matthew Philip Monks, 32, was charged with possession of a prohibited weapon – an unloaded air pistol. He pleaded not guilty and was freed on bail pending a hearing on Sept. 29.

Two other men arrested in the Aug. 3 sweep were released without charge, and a further two were re-arrested on non-terrorist charges.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, British police have arrested more than 600 people under terrorism laws, laying charges in about 100 cases.

Several big trials are coming up, including that of six men charged with conspiring to cause an explosion after police seized 600 kilograms (1,300 pounds) of potential bomb-making fertilizer in March. Their trial is tentatively set for September 2005.

Trials also are set to begin soon for five men charged with conspiring to commit murder and to cause disruption or injury with poisons or explosives. The charges stemmed from the discovery of traces of the poison ricin in a London apartment in January 2003.

United Press International
August 18, 2004 Wednesday 11:51 AM Eastern Time
HEADLINE: Analysis: Terror threat thwarted?
BYLINE: By CLAUDE SALHANI
DATELINE: WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 (UPI)

After crying wolf a number of times then raising and lowering the color-coded threat alert level, it may now appear there was some truth — and hard facts — behind the latest terror alerts looming on both sides of the Atlantic.

The “chatter” emanating from the usual suspects, among others, has resulted in the arrest of eight Pakistani men in the United Kingdom on Tuesday. It is now believed they were planning a new round of deadly terrorist attacks in the United States, aimed at undermining financial institutions.

The charges brought against the suspected terrorists include accusations of intent to detonate “dirty bombs” and to use radioactive, chemical, biological or explosive attacks against financial establishments in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

The intended targets are believed to have been the New York Stock Exchange, banks and insurance companies in New York and New Jersey, and the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington.

Dirty bombs consist of radioactive material wrapped around conventional explosives. While a dirty bomb does not carry the same impact as a sophisticated nuclear device, it would, nevertheless, depending on the charge and the amount of radioactive material used, contaminate several city blocks around the area of detonation, rendering the zone inhabitable for many years.

Intelligence and security agencies can find no firm evidence that al-Qaida has managed to obtain nuclear material to use in dirty bombs, but that does not necessarily mean they have not been able to obtain some. There is enough nuclear material floating around the world — mostly in the former Soviet republics — that Osama bin Laden and his associates could have procured enough on the black market for at lest one suitcase bomb. It’s not as though they lack the funds for it.

Two months after the 9/11 attacks, bin Laden gave an interview to Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist, during which bin Laden confirmed that he was in possession of weapons of mass destruction. “We have chemical and nuclear weapons as a deterrent, and if America used them against us we reserve the right to use them,” bin Laden was reported as saying.

The eight men arrested in Britain, it now appears, had been held for two weeks at the Paddington Green high-security police station in west London, according to intelligence reports. The men were detained along with four others on Aug. 3, following a series of raids by London’s anti-terrorist branch.

According to the Asia-Pacific Foundation, a London-based international policy assessment group, Dhiren Barot, 32, purportedly believed to be Abu Issa al-Britani, was among those detained.

Abu Issa al-Britani, or Abu Issa the Brit, who holds British citizenship, is better known as Esa al-Hindi, or Esa the Indian. He is in fact a Pakistani-born extremist. It is believed that he was tasked with identifying targets in the United States.

Barot was charged under the Terrorism Act in connection with a potential plot to target financial institutions in the United States. The APF report further states that it’s been alleged that the men were in possession of a “reconnaissance plan” of the Prudential (insurance) Building in New Jersey, the stock exchange and Citigroup buildings in New York, and the IMF in Washington. He is also accused of having owned two notebooks containing information on explosives, poisons, chemicals and related matters.”

Among the items found in their possession, according to the report, was “an extract of the Terrorist’s Handbook containing information on the preparation of chemicals and explosives.”

Additionally, a ninth man, Matthew Philip Monks, 32, of Sudbury in north London, was charged with possessing a banned weapon. The report did not specify what type of weapon he possessed.

The most worrying issue, states the analysts’ report, is the fact that these individuals were purportedly linked to al-Qaida and were allegedly planning to use powerful explosives as well as radioactive and chemical materials.

Indeed, what is worrying is that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks there has been much talk in the intelligence community about the possible use of “dirty bombs.”

Eliza Manningham-Buller, the head of Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency, had stated some months ago that “it is only a matter of time” before terrorists would be able to launch an attack using WMDs.

But this seems to be the first incident where concrete evidence of such plans has emerged.

What is yet unconfirmed, but probable, is whether these eight men are connected to bin Laden’s al-Qaida network, and where they received their training.

Terrorist analysts M.J. Gohel and Sajjan M. Gohel point to the Khalden camp, located in Paktia Province near Tora Bora. They believe it was “one of at least two-dozen terrorist training camps that the CIA and FBI had identified over the years in Afghanistan” and was destroyed by U.S. forces after 9/11.

The report states that the Khalden camp “was used for training terrorists to be deployed in Europe,” where they were trained in the use of high explosives.

According to the Asia Pacific Foundation report, Kuwaiti-born Palestinian Ramzi Yousef “finished his terror training at Khalden just months before he detonated a truck bomb under the World Trade Center on Feb. 26, 1993.” As a reminder, the first World Trade Center bombing killed six people, injured more than 1,000 and caused $550 million in damage.

Another “graduate” of the Khalden Camp, according to the analysts, is Richard Reid, aka the attemped airline “Shoe Bomber.” What stands the Khalden Camp out from other terrorist training facilities in Afghanistan, states the Gohel report, is that it was designed for non-Arabic speaking recruits. “Lectures were mainly in English,” they say.

A strike against the intended targets would have killed thousands and would have had a devastating effect on the world’s economy. It is through a miracle — and the dedicated, and usually unreported efforts of counter-intelligence groups — that the worst was averted.

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