- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 11, 2009

LONDON (AP) - One of 12 people arrested on suspicion of planning a major terror attack in Britain has been released without charge and was being questioned by immigration authorities, authorities said Saturday.

The unidentified 18 year old is now in the custody of the U.K. Border Agency, a police spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity in keeping with departmental policy. She said the other 11 suspects arrested in a series of raids in northern England three days ago are still in custody and being questioned.

British officials have not released details about the reported terror plot, but Prime Minister Gordon Brown called it “very big.” Britain’s media have suggested that an attack could have been timed to coincide with the Easter holiday and that pictures of supermarkets were uncovered by police hunting for evidence in the northern cities of Liverpool and Manchester.

Most of those in custody were Pakistanis living in Britain on student visas, and the arrests have roiled relations between Pakistan and Britain. News of the alleged plot also has raised questions about the strength of the U.K.’s immigration system. Opposition leaders are calling for a crackdown on the student visa system, which allows tens of thousands of foreigners into Britain each year.

Brown and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband have spoken with their Pakistani counterparts about the arrests, but a senior Pakistani official said Saturday that the U.K. has not shared any of its information about the suspects.

Pakistani Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik told reporters in Islamabad that his government wants Britain to supply that information about the arrested so it can “verify whether they are Pakistanis” and possibly “bring these culprits to justice,” especially if they have any links with al-Qaida.

British media have suggested that if there is insufficient evidence to charge the Pakistani suspects, they could be deported home on national security grounds. But Malik said that if Britain has enough evidence to charge and prosecute any of the suspects that should happen in the U.K.


Associated Press Writers Gregory Katz in London and Munir Ahmad in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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