Sunday, August 13, 2006
U.S. Pushed Britain Into Exposing Airline Plot Early
The U.S. pushed the British government into initiating the arrests of suspects, thus publicly revealing the "Airline Plot" sooner than British anti-terror officials wanted, according to NBC.
The British felt that it would have been better to wait and continue to surveil the suspects to expose more of their co-conspirators in the plot.
NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.
A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.
In contrast to previous reports, the official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports.
The source did say, however, that police believe one U.K.-based suspect was ready to conduct a "dry run." British authorities had wanted to let him go forward with part of the plan, but the Americans balked.
How odd. The "one U.K.-based suspect" would have likely met with people in the U.S. who are in on the plot. But the U.S. apparently didn't want such persons detected.
The British official said the Americans also argued over the timing of the arrest of suspected ringleader Rashid Rauf in Pakistan, warning that if he was not taken into custody immediately, the U.S. would "render" him or pressure the Pakistani government to arrest him...
Ultimately, this official says, Rauf was arrested over the objections of the British.