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Another Suspect Charged In Terror Plot

Police officers guard the entrance to City of Westminster Magistrates after the arrival of a van carrying terror suspects on August 22, 2006 in London.
Getty Images/Bruno Vincent
British police said Thursday that another suspect was charged in the alleged plot to down U.S. airliners over the Atlantic with makeshift explosives.

Umair Hussain, 24, was charged with having information about a possible terrorist act and not disclosing it, Scotland Yard said. He will be arraigned Friday.

The decision came a day after Hussain, who was arrested Aug. 10, had his custody extended by 24 hours.

The decision brought to 12 the number of people that have been charged in the alleged plot to blow up as many as 10 passenger jets using liquid explosives.

Several of those charged came from the same leafy commuter suburb — High Wickham, 30 miles west of London — reports CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar. Police found bomb-making equipment in area woods, and a few weeks before the arrests, neighbors began complaining that they heard explosions coming from the woods every day.

Eight of the suspects appeared in court this week charged with conspiracy to murder and preparing to commit acts of terrorism. Three others — including the mother of an 8-month-old baby — were charged with lesser offenses, including failing to disclose information.

On Wednesday, British police were given another week to quiz eight remaining suspects in the plot. Under British anti-terrorism law, detectives can seek a judge's permission to hold suspects for up to 28 days before they must be charged or released.

Five people have been released since the alleged plot was revealed two weeks ago.

All of the suspects were arrested in a series of raids in London, Birmingham and suburban High Wycombe on Aug. 10.

Also, Britain's charity regulator froze the bank accounts of an aid organization while it investigated alleged links to the foiled plot.

The Charity Commission said it had launched a formal inquiry into Crescent Relief, which raised funds for victims of last year's Pakistan earthquake.

British media outlets have reported that Crescent Relief was founded in 2000 by Abdul Rauf, whose son Rashid Rauf is being held in Pakistan over his alleged key role in the jetliner plot. Media reports have suggested that funds from the charity may have been used to support the planned attacks.

Rashid Rauf's brother, Tayib Rauf, was arrested, but was released Wednesday without charge.

The Charity Commission said the group's funds had been frozen "as a temporary and protective measure."

"We are working with law enforcement agencies to get to the bottom of allegations of possible terrorist abuse of Crescent Relief funds," said Kenneth Dibble, the commission's director of legal and charity services. "The allegations made are very serious, and we are taking this action to protect the charity's funds while the investigation is under way."

No one answered the telephone at Crescent Relief's London offices on Thursday.

After news of the alleged plot broke, Pakistan identified Rashid Rauf as a "key person" in the investigation. A senior government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the case's sensitivity, described him as a "transmitter of messages" between an unnamed al Qaeda mastermind in Afghanistan and plotters in London.

British authorities have not said whether they believe al Qaeda was involved in the plot, and the Home Office declined to say on Thursday whether it had requested Rashid Rauf's extradition from Pakistan.

In an unusual move earlier this week, senior officers revealed details of their investigation, saying detectives had recovered thousands of pieces of evidence in searches of dozens of properties and two stretches of woodland.

British police seldom disclose evidence about ongoing investigations for fear of prejudicing any future trials.

Investigators have found bomb-making chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, and electrical components during their searches, said Peter Clarke, the head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist department.

Months of surveillance had produced "significant video and audio recordings" about the alleged plot, he said Monday, including "martyrdom videos" by some of the prospective bombers.

More than 8,000 items of data storage, such as compact discs, DVDs and memory sticks, were found. A map of Afghanistan, suicide notes and books on explosives were also seized, officials said.