Terror suspects held after arrests at port
Aug 18 2006
Darren Devine, Western Mail
A MAN and woman were arrested at a North Wales port last week under the Terrorism Act, police said yesterday.
The 47-year-old man and 44-year-old woman were arrested at Holyhead Port, on Anglesey, on Friday.
North Wales Police did not disclose the arrests until yesterday, when they successfully applied to Holyhead Magistrates for a custody extension of five days.
A police spokeswoman said « No threat was posed to passengers and staff at Holyhead Port as a result of the arrests. »
Deputy Chief Constable of North Wales Police Clive Wolfendale said the arrests were not directly linked to last week’s alleged foiled bomb plot, but said officers were keeping « an open mind ».
Meanwhile police investigating the alleged airliner bomb plot have found a suitcase containing components needed to make an explosive device, the BBC reported last night.
The discovery is thought to have been made in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, where specialist officers are combing King’s Wood.
The BBC reported a police source as saying the suitcase contained « everything you would need to make an improvised device ».
Scotland Yard has refused to comment on the reports.
North Wales said the Holyhead arrests were intelligence-led and carried out by officers from Special Branch.
The couple who were arrested were originally from Algeria, but police refused to say whether they were now British citizens.
Mr Wolfendale said one of the couple had travelled into the UK on a ferry from Dublin at 9am on Friday. It is understood the second person arrested had travelled from within the UK to pick the other person up.
Police said they were arrested as they were in possession of « several items ». They refused to comment on reports the pair were in possession of DVDs and CDs.
Police also refused to reveal whether the pair were related or married. They said they were limited in the information they could release about the arrests for « operational reasons ».
Mr Wolfendale said the arrests were not made public because there was no risk to the public and so no need to ask people to take safety precautions or assist with inquiries.
He added, « The silence has enabled investigators to make rapid progress outside the glare of publicity.
« Also, and importantly, with respect to the rights of those in custody, the risk of intrusion both to them and to their families and associates has been minimised.
« But it was a difficult judgment call and it has been throughout. »
The two are being held separately in North Wales.
Mr Wolfendale said the North Wales force was working closely with colleagues in the Met as the London force leads on terrorism.
And just as the assets of those arrested in connection with the airline bomb plots were frozen so Mr Wolfendale revealed the finances of the pair being detained in North Wales are being analysed.
He said security at Holyhead was stepped up after those involved in planning the airline attacks were arrested and remains « severe ».
Chief Superintendent Gareth Pritchard, who is responsible for policing in Holyhead, said he wanted to reassure the public that the police in the area remain vigilant following the arrests.
Meanwhile, it was claimed that a key suspect in the alleged airliner plot had links with an outlawed Pakistani group and met al-Qaeda figures in Pakistan in the lead-up to his arrest.
As anti-terror detectives continued to question the 23 suspects in the UK, intelligence officials in Pakistan disclosed more details of Rashid Rauf’s alleged connections to the al Qaida terror network.
The arrest last week in Pakistan of Rauf, a British national and the brother of one of those detained here, is widely believed to have triggered the police operation to smash the alleged plot.
Officers from the Met have also flown to Pakistan to liaise with the authorities there over the questioning of Rauf. It is still unclear whether the Government has formal requested his extradition.
A number of other people are being held in Pakistan over the alleged plot.
One intelligence official there has claimed that the suspects were not « experienced » and « trained » like al-Qaeda operatives who had carried out the September 11 attacks or last year’s London bombings, but were « filled with hate » for Britain and the United States.
« I don’t know how close they were from executing the attacks, but I personally believe that they wanted to do it to mark the (fifth anniversary of) 9/11 attacks, » the official said, referring to the devastating attacks in America in 2001.