11 remanded over alleged airline terror plot

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The Independent Online

Eleven people were remanded in custody today in connection with an alleged plot to blow up transatlantic airliners.





A young mother of an eight month old baby and a 17-year-old youth were among the eleven, who appeared at City of Westminster Magistrates Court in central London.

The alleged plot was to manufacture and smuggle the component parts of improvised explosive devices on to passenger jets and assemble, then detonate them on board.

In a series of short hearings, eight men, aged between 19 and 28, appeared before the court accused of conspiracy to murder and preparing an act of terrorism.

They were: Tanvir Hussain, 25, of no fixed abode; Umar Islam, 28, of east London; Arafat Waheed Khan, 25, from Walthamstow, east London; Ahmed Abdullah Ali, 25 from Walthamstow; Ibrahim Savant, 25, from north London; Waheed Zaman, 22, from Walthamstow; Assad Ali Sarwar, 26, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and Adam Khatib, 19, from Walthamstow.

They are each charged with one offence of conspiracy to murder contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

The second charge is a new offence contrary to Section 5(1) of the Terrorism Act 2006, alleging that they were preparing to smuggle the component parts of improvised explosive devices on to aircraft and assemble and detonate them on board.

All of the defendants appeared in court wearing white t-shirts or sweaters, with grey sweatpants. They had close cropped dark hair and beards and spoke only to confirm basic details about their identities.

No formal pleas were entered and no application for bail was made on behalf of any of the eight.

However, Tanvir Hussain's legal representative, Mohammed Zeb, told the court: "Insofar as the allegations are concerned, all allegations are denied."

All eight were remanded in custody until September 4, when they will reappear at the Old Bailey for a preliminary hearing.

Later, they were transported from the court complex in police vans escorted by police convoys and taken to Belmarsh high security jail in Plumstead, east London.

Close to 100 people had packed the small courtroom for today's hearings, filling every available seat in the public gallery, with many sitting on the floor and even in the witness box.

The remaining three defendants appeared before the court this afternoon charged with offences under the Terrorism Act 2000.

The 17-year-old youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of an offence under Section 58(1)(b) of the Terrorism Act 2000.

The charge alleges that he had in his possession a book on improvised explosive devices, some suicide notes and wills with the identities of persons prepared to commit acts of terror and a map of Afghanistan.

No application for bail was made today and he was remanded in custody for one week until August 29 when he will reappear before the magistrates' court.

The remaining two defendants to appear in court were the young mother Cossar Ali and a man, Mehran Hussain.

Bespectacled Ali, 24, from Walthamstow, wore a patterned Muslim headscarf and sat impassively in the dock during the brief hearing.

She is accused of failing to disclose information which might be of "material assistance" in preventing her husband Ahmed Abdullah Ali, who is also charged in connection with the alleged plot, from the commission of a terrorist act.

Hussain, 23, from Chingford, east London, is accused of failing to disclose information which might be "of material assistance" in preventing Nabeel Hussain from the commission of a terrorist act.

Nabeel Hussain, Mehran's brother, is among those still being questioned.

Both alleged offences are contrary to Sections 38b(1)(a) and (2) of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Their legal representatives indicated to the court that their clients would be pleading not guilty.

An application for bail on behalf of Cossar Ali was refused, and she was remanded in custody until August 29 when she will reappear before the magistrates' court.

There was no application for bail on behalf of Hussain. He was also remanded in custody until August 29 but is next expected to appear in person on September 19.

The charges had been announced last night by Susan Hemming, head of the counter terrorism division at the Crown Prosecution Service.

She had appeared alongside Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Branch, who, for the first time, gave details of the "immense" scale of the investigation into the alleged plot, codenamed Operation Overt.

All of those charged were arrested in overnight raids on August 10.

Detectives have until tomorrow evening to continue questioning 11 other people held in custody over the alleged plot.

However, anti-terror officers are likely to apply for a series of custody extensions at the High Court tomorrow, to give them more time to decide whether to charge or release the suspects.