Attempted “Trans-Atlantic Jihad” foiled

via Media Release published on August 10, 2006

London‘s anti-terrorist police said they foiled a plot to blow up airliners traveling to the U.S. using explosives smuggled in hand luggage, prompting the operator of Heathrow airport to cancel incoming flights. Britain‘s national threat level was also raised to critical — a warning level that indicates the likelihood of an imminent terrorist attack.

U.K. authorities arrested a number of people overnight, police said today in an e-mailed statement, adding that flights between the U.K. and U.S. would have been “particularly” targeted. The U.K. and the U.S. raised their terror alerts to the highest level. Six aircraft had been targeted and as many as 34 individuals were arrested in London.

“We carried out a major counter-terrorism operation to disrupt what we believe was a major threat to the U.K. and international partners,” Home Secretary John Reid said in a televised briefing. Authorities “are investigating an alleged plot to bring down a number of aircraft through mid-air explosions causing considerable loss of life.”

 Airports were instructed not to permit hand baggage aboard flights, the U.K. Department of Transport said. BAA Plc, the world’s largest airport operator, said Heathrow will be closed to incoming flights until further notice.

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