- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2006

LONDON — Police detained a new suspect yesterday in the plot to blow up jetliners over the Atlantic, the first arrest since authorities detained 23 persons last week and threw Britain’s airports into turmoil by imposing tougher security.

The announcement came after police said they raided two Internet cafes near the homes of some suspects and a news report said officers may have found a rifle and a pistol in a search of woodlands in the same area.

Travelers still faced problems at Britain’s main airports, where flight delays and cancellations exacerbated confusion over shifting rules on carry-on luggage.

The London Times newspaper said officials were considering a system of passenger profiling that would select people behaving suspiciously, having an unusual travel pattern or being of certain ethnic or religious backgrounds.

Leaders in the Muslim community criticized the latter idea, saying it would further isolate British Muslims.

“There is concern that such profiling would perhaps only contribute to further alienating a group whose close co-operation is essential in countering terror,” said Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain.

London’s metropolitan police said the latest suspect was detained around noon in the Thames Valley area just west of London. They offered no more details, including the person’s identity.

The developments came after several days of near silence from British officials, who had announced Thursday that they foiled the planned terror attack by arresting 24 persons around the country. One person was later released. Police have released little information since then.

Authorities will have to provide at least some details of their evidence when a judge holds a closed-door hearing today to decide whether to extend detention for 23 suspects. One suspect was released without charge Friday.

The two Internet cafes were raided Thursday in central Slough, 25 miles west of London, not far from the High Wycombe neighborhood where several suspects were arrested, Thames Valley police said.

Nargis Janjua, co-owner of the One World Internet Cafe, said officers arrived Thursday afternoon and removed 25 computers from her shop and loaded them into a van.

“They told us they were watching for days and weeks before,” she said. She added that she had no idea why police were suspicious of activities in the shop.

The British Broadcasting Corp. said a search of woods in High Wycombe turned up several firearms and other items of interest. It was not clear if they were tied to the plot, which authorities say involved plans to smuggle liquid explosives hidden in carry-on luggage aboard airplanes.

Investigations are also under way in Pakistan, where officials are holding 17 persons, including British citizen Rashid Rauf, who they said has al Qaeda connections and was a key player in the plot. At least one of Rauf’s brothers was arrested in England.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said it might extradite Rauf to Britain, but had not yet been asked.

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