Key Facts of Alleged Airline Bomb Plot Conspiracy

An airport security personnel frisks passengers at the main international airport in Manila, August 11, 2006. Airports in the world are on high alert after British police foiled a plot to bomb US-bound aircraft using liquid explosives (AFP Photo)

With more than 30 suspects in police custody, including the key players, herewith are the main facts behind what authorities in Britain say was a terrorist plot to blow up US-bound airliners.

     THE PLOT:

   - Described by police as intended to cause "untold death and destruction" and commit "mass murder on an unimaginable scale".

   - Intelligence suggested explosive devices were to be constructed in Britain and taken through British airports.

   - Aim was to smuggle devices onto airplanes in hand luggage and detonate them in flight.

   - Intended targets were flights from Britain to the United States.

   - Number, destination and timing of flights still under investigation, according to police.

   - Alleged plot was said to be in late stages when police decided to take urgent action.

   - Robert Mueller, head of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, says alleged conspiracy had "earmarks of an Al-Qaeda plot".

  THE POLICE OPERATION:

   - Carried out by Metropolitan Police's Anti-Terrorist Branch and Britain's domestic security service MI5. Major operation which lasted several months.

   - Total of 24 people arrested in Britain early Thursday, most in east London, on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of Acts of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2000.

   - Seven others arrested in Pakistan last week, including two Britons of Pakistani origin.

   - Raids in Walthamstow, east London; High Wycombe, northwest of London; and Birmingham, Britain's second city in west central England. Business and residential premises searched.

   - British Home Secretary John Reid has said police believe "main players have been accounted for".

   - Police looked at meetings, movements, travel, spending and the "aspirations" of a large group of people with "unprecedented level of surveillance".

   - Involved cooperation with international agencies.

     THE SUSPECTS:

   - Suspects held in London in Metropolitan Police custody, most likely in the high-security Paddington Green station.

   - Bank of England, Britain's central bank, releases names of 19 of the 24 arrested in Britain. Youngest is aged 17, oldest is 35. Most are in their 20s.

   - Of those named, 14 live in east London, four in High Wycombe, one in Birmingham. All appear to have Muslim names.

   - Britain's domestic Press Association news agency says most believed to be of Pakistani origin.

   - British newspapers say some raised as Muslims, others converts.

   - The Daily Telegraph newspaper says at least two women arrested. The Sun newspaper says one was a security worker at London Heathrow Airport.

   THE GOVERNMENT:

   - Operation carried out with full knowledge of ministers.

   - Several meetings of COBRA, the government's emergencies contingency committee involved security chiefs and senior ministers, chaired by Reid.

   - Prime Minister Tony Blair, on holiday in Barbados, kept in "constant contact".

   - Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, filling in for Blair in his absence, charged with "bringing our communities together": Reid.

   THE AFTERMATH:

   - Britain put on "Critical" alert status for first time, meaning "an attack is expected imminently and indicates an extremely high level of threat to the UK". Reid says will remain in place as "precautionary measure."

   - Airport security tightened at British and world airports, causing flight cancellations and delays across the globe.

   - Bank of England freezes accounts of 19 of 24 men arrested in Britain.

   - US President George W. Bush, told about the plot Sunday, says it is "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with terrorism".

Source: AFP

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