UK warns of terror plot aimed at British landmarks

Police search homes of 12 suspects being held for questioning; possible targets include Houses of Parliament, shopping areas around country.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 21, 2010 20:17
2 minute read.
British police officers guard in London, Monday.

UK police cops terror warning 311 AP. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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LONDON — A large-scale terror attack was aimed at British landmarks and public spaces, security officials said Tuesday as more details emerged and police searched the homes of 12 British suspects being held for questioning.

The men — whose ages range from 17 to 28 — were arrested Monday in the largest counterterrorism raid in nearly two years. At least five were of Bangladeshi origin.

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Lord Carlile, the government's independent watchdog for terror legislation, said Tuesday the alleged plot appeared significant and involved several British cities, but he did not identify the targets. Police have up to 28 days to either charge the men or release them.

Possible targets that were scouted include the Houses of Parliament in London and shopping areas around the UK, according to a security official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

The plot, however, was unconnected to a larger European plot uncovered in the fall involving a Mumbai-style shooting spree in cities across Britain, France or Germany, the official said. Monday's arrests were also unrelated to last week's suicide bombing in Sweden and the plot did not appear to be timed for the holidays, he said.

Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner John Yates said police searches of the men's homes could take days, and officers were seen Tuesday removing computers from their homes. The men were arrested in the cities of London, Cardiff, Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham.



European officials typically step up security around the holidays, but this year especially after a Nigerian man with explosives taped to his underwear tried to blow up a plane on Christmas Day last year as it approached Detroit.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who had studied in London, had boarded the Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit from Amsterdam. The 24-year-old is accused of trying to blow up the flight. A judge in a federal court in Detroit has entered a not-guilty plea on Abdulmutallab's behalf.

Italian officials were investigating whether an explosive device found in a subway car in Rome on Tuesday was terror-related.

Iraqi officials claimed last week that captured insurgents believed the Stockholm bombing was part of a series of Christmas season attacks.

Britain's terror alert has remained unchanged at "severe" while Germany upped its terror alert Nov. 17 in response to an increased threat from Islamic extremists. Berlin's Interior Minister Ehrhart Koerting said recently the threat has eased but said it was necessary to remain vigilant.

In October, the United States warned its citizens living or traveling in Europe to be wary after details emerged of a larger European terror threat.

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