- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 18, 2004

LONDON — Eight suspects, including a man identified by the United States as a senior al Qaeda figure, appeared in a London court under heavy guard yesterday as police investigated their purported plot to commit murder and to cause mayhem with chemical, biological or radioactive materials.

A prosecutor also said police were searching about 100 computers and thousands of files, suggesting a protracted investigation that could produce more charges against the suspects, who were seized in raids across England two weeks ago.

The eight suspects, including a suspected al Qaeda operative linked to a terror alert in the United States this month, did not enter pleas yesterday and were ordered detained until their next court appearance Aug. 25.

Prosecution lawyer Sue Hammond said the eight were prepared to commit “extreme acts” in the name of their “strong and deeply held beliefs.”

The eight are charged with conspiracy to murder, and with conspiracy to cause a public nuisance by using radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals or explosives to cause “disruption, fear or injury.”

Some British newspapers yesterday mentioned a purported “dirty bomb plot,” but prosecutors have released no details about that conspiracy.

The men were brought to the high-security Belmarsh Magistrates Court in armored police vans and shadowed by a helicopter. They wore prison-issue sweat pants and white shirts and spoke only to confirm their names and ages.

None of the defense lawyers applied for bail. Kirsten Johnson, speaking for lawyers representing six defendants, said the charges “will be fully contested.”

Mudassar Arani, who represents seven defendants, said she filed a formal complaint about their treatment in custody, saying several had their glasses removed and could not pray or read the Koran.

The conspiracy charges were filed under ordinary British criminal law, but three suspects also face charges under the Terrorism Act.

The suspect that U.S. officials claim is a senior al Qaeda figure is Dhiren Barot, 32.

Barot is charged with possessing reconnaissance plans for the New York Stock Exchange, the International Monetary Fund building in Washington, the Citigroup building in New York and the Prudential building in Newark, N.J., and with possessing notebooks containing information on explosives, poisons and chemicals.

U.S. officials say Barot — known variously as Abu Eisa al-Hindi, Abu Musa al-Hindi and Issa al-Britani — scouted prominent financial targets in the United States at the behest of Osama bin Laden.

The buildings for which he purportedly had plans, along with the World Bank in Washington, were identified by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge on Aug. 1 as targets in suspected terrorist plots uncovered by new intelligence.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said federal authorities were considering pressing charges and seeking the suspects’ extradition to the United States.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide