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Britain Remains at Critical Threat Level After Foiling Terror Plot

  • VOA News

Britain's home secretary says the country's threat level remains at critical, one day after police arrested key figures in an alleged plot to blow up US-bound airliners over the Atlantic Ocean.

John Reid , on Friday, expressed confidence that the main suspects in the case are in custody, but he said the investigation will continue. He also praised Pakistan, which reported a major role in uncovering the plot.

On Thursday, British authorities arrested 24 suspects. Officials say they could have been just days away from smuggling liquid explosives onto as many as 10 U.S.-bound airplanes and blowing them up.

The Bank of England froze the assets of 19 of the arrested suspects who appear to be Muslims. Many of them are believed to be of Pakistani origin.

U.S. and British news reports quote officials as saying about five suspects could still be at large.

Security remains tight at airports around the world. Authorities in the United States are not allowing passengers to take any liquids or gels with them into the airplane cabin.

President Bush Thursday called the plot a reminder that the United States is at war with what he called "Islamic fascists."

Top British and U.S. officials say the plot is similar to a failed 1995 al-Qaida plot to blow up a number of airliners over the Pacific.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair Thursday thanked British police and intelligence agents for what he called their "immense effort" in protecting the country.

Al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four aircraft in the United States on September 11th, 2001, flying them into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon. A fourth airliner crashed (in Pennsylvania) on its way to another major Washington target.

In December 2001, Briton Richard Reid was arrested trying to set off a bomb hidden in his shoe on a commercial passenger jet.
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