Monday, August 14, 2006

Investigators Tracing Terror Plot Money Trail

Investigators Tracing Terror Plot Money Trail
Friday, August 11, 2006

LONDON — Investigators on three continents worked to fill in the full, frightening picture Friday of a plot to blow U.S. jetliners out of the Atlantic skies, tracking the money trail and seizing more alleged conspirators in the teeming towns of eastern Pakistan.

One arrested there, a Briton named Rashid Rauf, is believed to have been the operational planner and to have connections with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistani and U.S. officials said.

British and Pakistani authorities have arrested as many as 41 people in the two countries in connection with the alleged suicidal plan, broken up by British police this week, to detonate disguised liquid explosives aboard as many as 10 planes bound from Britain to the United States.

"The terrorists intended a second Sept. 11," said Frances Fragos Townsend, White House homeland security adviser.

New information underlined how close they were to mounting attacks.

After the first arrests in Pakistan some days ago, word went from Pakistan to the London plotters to move ahead quickly, a message intercepted by an intelligence agency, a U.S. official disclosed on condition of anonymity. That prompted British police to move in on the conspirators, long under watch.

British Home Secretary John Reid told reporters officials were confident the main suspects in the plot were in custody. But authorities "would go where any further evidence takes us," he said.

"I think it's pretty clear that in this case, we don't have everybody," Townsend told The Associated Press in Washington.

The British government released the names of 19 of the 24 arrested in Britain — many apparently British Muslims of Pakistani ancestry — and froze their assets. One of the 24 detainees later was freed.

The record of financial transactions, along with telephone and computer records, may help investigators trace more people in the alleged plot.


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