British police today charged eight men with conspiracy to murder and violations of the Terrorism Act after finding that they possessed surveillance information on the same financial centers in Washington, New York and New Jersey that were the focus of the terror alert earlier this month in the United States?
The eight men were arrested on Aug. 3 and held for two weeks at a high security police facility in West London. They were also charged with conspiring to use "radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals and explosives" to cause fear, panic and disruption against unspecified targets. One of the men was charged with possessing a "terrorist's handbook" on explosives. They will make a court appearance Wednesday at the high security Belmarsh Prison in Southeast London., informs NYTimes. Among the eight men was an alleged ranking Al Qaeda operative who earlier had been identified by an alias, Issa al-Hindi, by American law enforcement officials. British officials today said that one of the men they were charging, Dhiren Barot, 32, was also known as Issa al-Hindi and was believed to be a senior Al Qaeda representative in Britain. Mr. Barot is also believed to be a critical figure in conducting surveillance activities in the United States in 2000 and early 2001 under the alias Issa al-Britani. This surveillance, of targets other than the World Trade Center, was ordered by Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the Sept. 11 commission report. According Reuters, United States security officials told Reuters that Dhiren Barot was the same man as Abu Eissa al-Hindi and Abu Musa al-Hindi, a key al Qaeda operative in Britain. "Dhiren Barot is Hindi," one U.S. security official said. United States counter-terrorism officials have described Hindi as the most significant of the men arrested in the recent swoop by British authorities. British police did not disclose any aliases. The plans were "of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism," said the police. ABCNEWS published, that in Washington, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said federal authorities "will explore every aspect of this case" to determine whether to press charges in the United States. The FBI will continue cooperating with British authorities, he said. "We commend the United Kingdom's action today in bringing criminal charges against individuals who may have connections to potential terrorist activities in the United States," Ashcroft said. The eight were due to make a first court appearance Wednesday at Belmarsh high security prison in London.
Read the earlier news stories.