British prisoner 'confesses' plot to poison-bomb Parliament

Severin Carrell
Sunday 30 November 2003 01:00 GMT

A Briton held in Guantanamo Bay has claimed that he took part in an al-Qa'ida plot to attack the House of Commons with anthrax in an attempt to kill Tony Blair.

The confession by Moazzam Begg, 35, one of nine Britons being held at the US base in Cuba, was disclosed to The Independent on Sunday by his lawyer, who says it was obtained under duress and is completely implausible. Clive Stafford Smith, a British lawyer based in New Orleans, Louisiana, said his client's admission was secured after months of interrogation and segregation in Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay.

Mr Stafford Smith said Mr Begg, who now faces prosecution by a US military tribunal, was put under intense pressure to plead guilty because the White House wants to stage quick and successful trials in the run-up to next year's presidential elections.

"Moazzam has agreed to plead guilty to this absurd story that allegedly he was part of an al-Qa'ida plot to get a drone - an unmanned aircraft - and fly it from Suffolk over London to drop anthrax over the House of Commons," said the lawyer. "The Americans must think we're incredibly stupid."

The plot was "laughable" because unmanned aircraft sophisticated enough for such an attack were tightly controlled by the armed forces, and cost at least $5m each. Getting hold of anthrax capable of being dropped from an aircraft was even less feasible.

Meanwhile, British authorities released a terrorism suspect held in Birmingham on Thursday, though searches continued. Turkey announced that it was holding a suspect over two synagogue bombings in Istanbul which preceded an attack on British targetsless than a week later. The suspect was said to have tried to cross into Iran using false identity papers. Yesterday the British embassy in Saudi Arabia warned terrorist attacks might be imminent there.

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