Wedding Emails Sparked Terror Swoop; MI5 Claims It Foiled Bomb Plot

The Evening Standard (London, England), August 14, 2009 | Go to article overview

Wedding Emails Sparked Terror Swoop; MI5 Claims It Foiled Bomb Plot


Byline: Martin Bentham Home Affairs Editor

SEVEN Pakistani terror suspects were arrested after MI5 decided that their emails contained codewords for a deadly bomb plot.

One email suggested that a girl called "Nadia" would be involved in a "nikah", a wedding, between 15 and 20 April this year -- part of an exchange which defence lawyers claim was entirely innocent.

The message, and others sent between the alleged plotters, triggered a major anti-terrorist operation after MI5, which had been monitoring the men for some time, decided that the girls' names were code for explosive ingredients and the "wedding" was the intended attack.

The details were disclosed today following a hearing at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission last month at which five of the men, who are all facing deportation on the grounds that they pose a threat to national security, applied to be released on bail.

The judge in the case, Mr Justice Mitting, refused their application, saying there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that

MI5' s view was "plainly wrong", in a decision which means that the men will stay in custody until next year.

Giving the reasons for his decision today, Mr Justice Mitting said a series of emails exchanged between an address attributed to one of the men and another attributed to an al Qaeda associate were "central to the open case against the appellants".

The emails from the man, identified only as XC, to "Sohaib" appear to refer to a "nikah".

Mr Justice Mitting added: "They appear to refer to XC's interest in named girls and to a nikah (wedding) after 15th and before 20th April 2009 with one of them, Nadia. The assessment of the security service is that references to named girls could be to ingredients from which an explosive device could be made and that the reference to the nikah is 'most likely' reference to an intended attack."

He continued: "The first, and ultimately determinative issue is, therefore: is the assessment of the security service plainly wrong? …

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