Tuesday, November 23, 2004

LONDON (AP) — British security services thwarted planned September 11-style terror attacks on Heathrow Airport and skyscrapers in Canary Wharf, a financial district of London, according to two news reports.

The stories, reported by ITV News on Monday night and by the Daily Mail newspaper in editions yesterday, did not say when or where the plots were uncovered, or how close they came to being executed.

The plot to crash planes into the two targets was among four or five attacks planned by terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, said the reports, which cited unidentified sources.

ITV News also said that British authorities had disrupted training programs for suicide pilots.

Officials at Britain’s Home Office and London’s Metropolitan Police refused to comment.

“We never comment on security matters,” said a spokesman at Prime Minister Tony Blair’s office.

A year and a half ago, British troops in armored vehicles surrounded Heathrow Airport. The government said the action was in response to specific intelligence.

In the summer, Pakistan gave British officials intelligence suggesting that al Qaeda had plotted to attack Heathrow.

The information was found on the computers of two al Qaeda suspects arrested in Pakistan. The computers held images of Heathrow.

On Nov. 8, the head of the British intelligence agency MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller, said counterterrorism efforts have helped prevent attacks in Britain since September 11, 2001, but she offered no details.

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