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Britain Formally Charges 11 in Terror Plot to Bomb US-Bound Airliners


British authorities have charged 11 people in an alleged plot to blow up U.S.-bound airliners, and authorities are considering charges against 11 others. VOA correspondent Gary Thomas reports from London.

Prosecutors announced Monday that 11 people are being charged in a plot to smuggle liquid explosives aboard U.S.-bound airliners and detonate them in mid-flight.

Crown prosecutor Susan Hemming said eight people are being charged with conspiracy to commit murder and preparing to engage in terrorism - a new offense under an anti-terrorism law passed earlier this year. Three others were also charged with terrorist offenses.

Eleven other people remain in custody, while authorities decide whether to charge them now, or seek additional time to detain and question them. One other person detained, a woman, was released without charge.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, who leads police counter-terror efforts, said Monday that the investigation is far from over.

"The scale is immense. Inquiries will span the globe," he said. "The enormity of the alleged plot will be matched only by our determination to follow every lead and line of inquiry."

The plot first came to light when police arrested 24 people in the early morning of August 10 in the greater London area and Birmingham. Revelation of the alleged conspiracy sparked stringent new airport security measures, and threw air traffic into chaos for several days.

Clarke said police conducted surveillance of suspects before August 10. He said, after the arrests, police found bomb-making equipment, computers and what he termed highly significant video and audio recordings during searches of businesses, homes, vehicles and open ground. They include so-called martyrdom videos, in which suicide bombers deliver a final message before they prepare for their final attack.

Authorities have until Wednesday to get a judge's permission to continue to hold the remaining suspects. Under Britain's anti-terrorism laws, police can hold suspects for up to 28 days without charge, but must repeatedly go before a judge during that time to justify the continued detentions.

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