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August 11, 2006

MORE INFORMATION ON THE ARRESTED TERORRIST PLOTTERS:

British officials identified 19 of the suspects accused of plotting to blow up U.S.-bound aircraft, making public a list of names that fueled suspicions of a Pakistan connection. Travelers at Britain's airports again struggled with increased security, and dozens more flights were canceled Friday.

Five Pakistanis have been arrested in Pakistan as suspected "facilitators" of the plot, a government official said, in addition to two Britons arrested there about a week ago.

The Bank of England said it had frozen the accounts of 19 people arrested Thursday. The men, ranging in age from 17 to 35, had names of Muslim origin, many of which are common in Pakistan.

Some, however, weren't Pakistanis:

Neighbors identified one of the suspects as Don Stewart-Whyte, 21, from High Wycombe, a convert who changed his name to Abdul Waheed.

"He converted to Islam about six months ago and grew a full beard," said a neighbor, who refused to be identified. "He used to smoke weed and drink a lot but he is completely different now."

Ibrahim Savant of Walthamstow, one of the names on the Bank of England list, was a convert formerly known as Oliver, neighbors said.

Should've stayed on the weed. Lots more on developments in this roundup, including stories on the role played by communications intercepts.

Meanwhile, James Joyner looks at the not-so-bright side:

The news that Scotland Yard managed to foil a terrorist attack that would have conceivably dwarfed the 9/11 attacks is not quite as good it might first appear. Certainly, the prevention of "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" is something for which we can be tremendously thankful. Still, our reaction to it has already furthered the terrorists' aims.

We need to be going after the sponsors and encouragers of this sort of thing, not just the formerly weed-smoking dupes. In particular, that means the network of radical clerics sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Iran. And, once again, we see the benefit of communications intercepts in stopping terrorists.

UPDATE: Good news: A tip from a suspicious British Muslim played an important role, too.