Terror plot that spans the globe : 11 British Muslims charged with plane bombing plot attempt to kill thousands
August 22, 2006
22/08/06 - News section
'Terror plot that spans the globe'
The scale of the suspected liquid bomb plot to blow up nine transatlantic jets and kill thousands of passengers was revealed last night.
As 11 British-born Muslims were charged in connection with the alleged conspiracy, detectives said they have recovered caches of bomb-making equipment, lethal chemicals and martyrdom videos.
Hundreds of computers and mobile phones have also been seized along with hundreds of hours of surveillance footage and thousands of CDs, DVDs and electronic memory cards.
Police believe the death toll could have reached up to 4,000.
The alleged plan was to smuggle the chemicals on to planes by hiding them in soft drinks or bottles. They would be mixed together on board and detonated - possibly with an electronic MP3 music player.
Graphic details of the alleged plot emerged as police charged eight British Muslims with conspiracy to murder.
All the men will appear at a central London magistrates' court today also charged with intending to 'smuggle the component parts of improvised explosive devices on to aircraft and assemble and detonate them on board'.
A further three suspects, including a teenager and the mother of an eight-month-old boy, have been charged with offences under the Terrorism Act.
Announcing the charges, Scotland Yard Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke said: 'We must be realistic. The threat from terrorism is real.
'It is here, it is deadly and it is enduring. We cannot afford to be complacent. The investigation is far from complete. The scale is immense. Inquiries will span the globe.
'The enormity of the alleged plot will be matched only by our determination to follow every lead and line of inquiry.'
The alleged conspiracy to bring down a series of airliners in a terrorist 'spectacular' to mark the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington was first revealed on August 10.
Police raided a string of addresses in Walthamstow, East London, the Buckinghamshire town of High Wycombe and Birmingham.
Further arrests were made in Pakistan where the alleged ringleader of the plot - 25-year-old former fridge salesman Rashid Rauf - is still being held.
In all, 11 of the 22 suspects still in custody have been charged.
Scotland Yard was last night granted a time extension warrant allowing officers to hold one of the 11 uncharged suspects until Wednesday.
Mr Clarke revealed that 69 houses, flats, cars and business premises have been searched along with woodland in High Wycombe.
He said that more than 400 computers, 200 mobile phones and 8,000 CDs, DVDs and electronic memory cards had been recovered and 6,000 gigabytes of computer data downloaded.
Bottles of the chemical hydrogen peroxide - a key component in a so-called 'liquid bomb' - have also been discovered.
Mr Clarke also disclosed that both video and audio surveillance footage shot before August 10 was 'highly significant'.
He added: 'All the data will be analysed. There will be thousands of forensic examinations and comparisons.
'Fingerprints, DNA, electronic data, handwriting comparisons, chemical analysis - indeed the full
range of forensic disciplines will be used.'
The discovery of so-called 'martyrdom videos' is seen by detectives involved in the arrests as significant.
Two of the July 7 bombers - Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer - both recorded films before they took their lives and those of dozens of London commuters last summer.
The discovery of the suspected plot provoked a huge security clampdown at the country's airports.
This led to huge restrictions on what can be taken on board planes - and lengthy queues which eventually brought protests from airlines.
Although some of the emergency rules have now been lifted, many see the discovery of the alleged plot as a watershed for the airline industry.