Nine men in British court over bomb plot
Nine men appeared in a London court Monday charged with terrorism offences including plotting bombings in Britain, a week after they were arrested in pre-dawn raids.
The men have been charged with conspiracy to cause an explosion, or explosions, "of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property" between October 1 and November 20 this year, police said.
The suspects, who appeared at City of Westminster Magistrates Court, also face charges of involvement in the preparation of an attack by having downloaded and researched methods and materials, and scouted potential targets.
The men -- at least five of whom are of Bangladeshi origin -- had also tested incendiary materials, said police.
Sue Hemming, of the counter-terrorism division of Britain's prosecution service, confirmed the charges in a statement.
She said sufficient evidence had been uncovered leading to charges of "conspiracy to cause explosions" and preparing "acts of terrorism" with the intention of either committing the acts themselves or helping others to do so, she said.
On December 20, police arrested a dozen suspects in England and Wales "on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism in the UK."
Police swooped in Britain's second city Birmingham in the English West Midlands; in London; in the Welsh capital Cardiff; and in the central English town of Stoke-on-Trent. Three men were subsequently released.
Hemming said prosecutors had decided to file the charges against the remaining nine men, aged between 19 and 28, after reviewing evidence provided by the West Midlands counter-terrorism unit.
A bombing in the Swedish capital Stockholm earlier this month has heightened concerns in Britain because the man thought to have been the attacker lived in the town of Luton near London.
Swedish investigators say they are "98 percent certain" that the man who blew up his car and himself was Iraqi-born Taimour Abdulwahab.
He had attended a university in Luton and had been living for the past few years in the town with his wife and three children.
Representatives of the mosque he attended have spoken of a popular man who developed extremist views.
It is believed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian being held in the United States on charges of trying to bomb a Detroit-bound passenger jet with explosives in his underwear a year ago, was radicalised while a student in London.
Five years after four suicide bombers killed 52 innocent people on London's transport network, Britain is on high alert after having upgraded its perceived terror threat level earlier this year to "severe."
This is the second highest on a five-level grading, indicating that a terrorist attack is "highly likely," according to the Home Office, Britain's interior ministry.
The threat level was hiked in January after a six-month spell at "substantial" -- the only time it has dipped below the two highest levels since it was set up in 2006, following the London bombings in July 2005.
The suicide bombers who unleashed their explosives on three Underground trains and a bus were all British nationals.
© 2010 AFP