Eleven charged over 'plot to blow up aircraft'

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Eleven people, including a woman and a 17-year-old, have been charged over their alleged involvement in a plot to bring down transatlantic airliners.

Eight men have been charged with conspiracy to murder and the new offence of preparing acts of terrorism. It is alleged that they plotted to manufacture bomb parts and smuggle them on board planes before assembling and detonating the devices.

The accused, all British Muslims, are due to appear at City of Westminster magistrates' court in Horseferry Road, London, this morning. The police said that one woman who was arrested had been freed, while 11 others remained in custody as the investigation continued.

Cossar Ali, a 23-year-old mother of a six-month-old son, has been charged with having "information which she knew or believed might be of material assistance in preventing the commission of another person, namely Ahmed Abdullah Ali aka Abdullah Ali Ahmed Khan, of an act of terrorism and failure to disclose it as soon as reasonably practical."

A 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been charged with offences under the Terrorism Act 2000, "with possession of articles useful to a person preparing an act of terrorism and failing to disclose information of material assistance in preventing an act of terrorism''.

The charges came as Scotland Yard announced that it had carried out 69 searches since the suspects were arrested on 10 August.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, who is the head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch, describing the "immense scale'' and "enormity'' of the alleged plot, said that police had discovered bomb-making equipment that included "chemicals, hydrogen peroxide, electrical components, documents and other items".

"We have also found a number of video recordings - these are sometimes referred to as martyrdom videos. This has all given us a clearer picture of the alleged plot," he said.

"As well as the bomb-making equipment we have found more than 400 computers, 200 mobile telephones and 8,000 items of removable storage media such as memory sticks, CDs and DVDs. So far, from the computers alone, we have removed some 6,000 gigabytes of data.

"There is evidence from surveillance carried out before 10 August. This includes important, indeed highly significant, video and audio recordings."

DAC Clarke acknowledged, however, that "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 investigation, DAC Clarke said, will take months to complete. "There will be thousands of forensic examinations and comparisons, fingerprints, DNA, electronic data, handwriting comparisons, chemical analysis and indeed the full range of forensic disciplines," he said.

DAC Clarke said that the police and the Security Service were doing everything possible to enable the public to live "without being in constant fear".

However, he continued: "We must be realistic. The threat from terrorism is real, it is here, it is deadly and it is enduring."

Those charged with conspiracy to murder are Ahmed Abdullah Ali aka Abdullah Ali Ahmed Khan, aged 25; Tanvir Hussain, 25; Umar Islam aka Brian Young, 28; Arafat Waheed Khan, 25; Assad Ali Sarwar, 26; Adam Khatib, 19; Ibrahim Savant, 25 and Waheed Zaman, 27.

The eleventh person charged was Mehram Hussain, who is accused of having "information which he knew or believed might be of material assistance in presenting the commission of another person namely, Nabeel Hussain, of an act of terrorism and failure to disclose it as soon as reasonably practicable."

Susan Hemming, head of the Counter Terrorism Division of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Eleven other individuals are still in custody and remain under active investigation. Their position is being assessed on a regular basis with a view to considering the need to keep them in detention.

"We cannot yet make a decision about whether further charges will follow or if a further application for detention will be made on Wednesday as the evidential picture is continuously developing.''

The charges in full

Those charged with conspiracy to murder and with an offence under section five of the Terrorism Act 2006 are:

* Ahmed Abdullah Ali, 25, Walthamstow, East London

* Tanvir Hussain, Leyton, 25, East London

* Umar Islam, 28, High Wycombe, Bucks

* Arafat Waheed Khan, 25, Walthamstow

* Assad Ali Sarwar, 26, High Wycombe

* Adam Khatib, 19, Walthamstow

* Ibrahim Savant, 25, Walthamstow

* Waheed Zaman, 22, Walthamstow

* The charge alleges they: "On diverse days between January 1 2006 and August 10 2006 within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court conspired with other persons to murder other persons."

* The alleged offence is contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

* The second charge against the eight alleges: "On diverse days between January 1 2006 and August 10 2006 within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court with the intention of committing acts of terrorism engaged in conduct to give effect to their intention to smuggle the component parts of improvised explosive devices on to aircraft and assemble and detonate them on board."

* The alleged offence is contrary to section 5(1) of the Terrorism Act 2006.

* The other three charged include a 17-year-old male, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, who is accused of an offence under section 58(1)(b) of the Terrorism Act 2000.

* The charge alleges that on a day between October 1 2005 and August 10 2006 he had in his possession a book on "improvised explosives devices, some suicide notes and wills with the identities of the persons prepared to commit acts of terrorism and a map of Afghanistan containing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".

* The other two charged are Cossar Ali, 23, of Walthamstow, and Mehran Hussain. They are accused of an offence contrary to section 38b(1)(a) and (2) of the Terrorism Act 2000.