Telegraph : Terror plot: search for explosives

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Terror plot: search for explosives

The hunt for explosives linked to an alleged plot to blow up shopping centres in Manchester intensified yesterday.

By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent | April 10, 2009

Officers believe that the alleged plot was in its final stages and could have been planned for the Easter weekend but have yet to discover any bomb-making equipment.

In the past, terrorist cells have proven adept at hiding bomb-making materials by hiring lock-ups or burying any evidence.

Police believe the plan was to launch suicide attacks on targets including the Trafford and Arndale shopping centres and St Ann's Square in the city.

Sources said officers had identified a number of "key addresses" among the properties raided in Manchester and Liverpool since Wednesday.

They suspect that Abid Naseer, 22, was the ring leader. He was living at Galsworthy Avenue, in Cheetham Hill, Manchester and two other men living at the same address have also been arrested.

At properties in Cedar Grove, Toxteth, and Earle Rd, Wavertree, a total of four men have been arrested in Liverpool, along with a fifth who was detained at John Moores University.

Two security guards arrested in Clitheroe, Lancashire, had apparently moved into a bed and breakfast hotel there from flats in Highgate Street, in Edge Hill, Liverpool.

Around a dozen black-clad armed officers raided the Highgate St flat above an off licence on Wednesday.

Two men arrested at the Cyber Net Café in Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester, are thought to be of lesser interest.

Searches are continuing at three other properties in Cheetham Hill but nothing "significant" has yet been found, sources said.

Officers have also examined two cars as part of the investigation.

The suspects at Cedar Grove in Toxteth were often seen "obsessively" adjusting their yellow Nissan Micra, neighbours said, and the vehicle was later towed away for forensic exmaination.

A silver Rover MG ZR car parked outside a house in Abercarn Close, Manchester, which contained a newspaper clipping of a man in military uniform, was cordoned off by police.

MI5 is working "around the clock" to identify material from a surveillance operation that may be of use to the investigating team.

In total, 12 people have been arrested, aged between their mid-teens and 41, of whom 11 are Pakistani nationals.

Yesterday reports emerged of arrests in Pakistan in connection with the investigation.

It is thought that a group was sent from the al-Qaeda heartlands in the tribal areas of Pakistan to attack Britain, travelling under student visas.

Sources have said the group was connected with Rashid Rauf from Birmingham, a senior member of al-Qaeda, said to have been killed in a US missile attack last year.