Police get more time to quiz nine suspects

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The Independent Online

Scotland Yard has been granted two more days to question nine of the 13 men arrested in co-ordinated anti-terrorism raids across the country last Tuesday.

Scotland Yard has been granted two more days to question nine of the 13 men arrested in co-ordinated anti-terrorism raids across the country last Tuesday.

Magistrates have given the police until tomorrow to hold the men. Detectives must then decide whether to release them or apply for a further extension.

The nine men, aged between 19 and 32, are being held at Paddington Green high security police station in central London. Two of the original 13 were no longer being questioned under the Terrorism Act, but remained in custody after being rearrested on suspicion of possessing forged identity documents, the Metropolitan Police said yesterday.

So far, police have declined to identify any of the suspects or say what charges they might face. At the time of the arrests, Scotland Yard would only say that the men were suspected of "being involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism".

Under the Terrorism Act, police can ask a court to extend the period of detention up to a maximum of two weeks from the time of arrest. This means the men must be either charged or released by 17 August.

The 13 men, all believed to be of Asian origin, were arrested last Tuesday during raids in London, Bushey in Hertfordshire, Luton in Bedfordshire and Blackburn in Lancashire. One of the men was released later that day while a second ­ who was one of the two arrested in Blackburn ­ was released without charge on Friday.

The two others no longer being questioned under the Terrorism Act were being detained under powers in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. One of them was among the five men who were initially arrested in Willesden, north-west London; the other was one of the two arrested in Paddington.

One of two men "released" early on Saturday ­ Mohammed Dawoud, 19, of Willesden, north-west London ­ will appear before Horseferry Road magistrates' court today charged with possession of forged identity documents, police said.

A second man, aged 24, technically freed yesterday was bailed after being questioned over alleged forged identity documents, but has been further detained on immigration matters, a spokesman for Scotland Yard said.

An alleged senior British al- Qa'ida agent, Abu Eisa al-Hindi, is reportedly among those detained. He was said to have been involved in a plot to attack Heathrow airport, details of which were allegedly discovered on the computer of Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, 25, an al-Qa'ida suspect recently arrested in Pakistan.

Reports claimed yesterday that Mr Khan spent three weeks living near Heathrow late last year. He is said to have lived in a ground-floor flat in Reading with his grandmother and his aunt. His aunt said that Mr Khan went out in the morning and came back in the evening and said only that he had joined a library and had been studying.

Reports last week also said that five al-Qa'ida militants were on the run after escaping capture in last Tuesday's raids.

The father of a terrorist suspect facing extradition to the US has made an impassioned defence of his "totally innocent" son ­ who he said was so law-abiding that he had never even had a parking ticket. Babar Ahmad, 30, from Tooting in south London, was arrested last week on a warrant issued on behalf of the US authorities.

But retired civil servant Ashfaq Ahmad, 69, ridiculed the charges. He said: "Do you really believe that a young lad from a place like Tooting could possibly be planning an attack against an aircraft carrier of the navy of the world superpower?"