Al-Qaeda suspects on run

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Key points

• Terror suspects at large in UK

• Computer reveals terror target plans

• UK national may be extradited to US

Story in full FIVE al-Qaeda militants were last night reported to be on the run in Britain after escaping capture in raids earlier this week.

The five are said to be known to a man who is among 12 people being questioned by police in London following an anti-terrorism operation on Tuesday.

According to The Times, British security forces had been tracking the movements of the alleged main operative in Britain for some time.

Yesterday police were granted another 72 hours to question the 12 men who were arrested on suspicion of plotting terrorism in the UK.

Files retrieved from the laptop of an al-Qaeda suspect arrested in Pakistan last week showed plans to attack targets in Britain and the United States. It emerged yesterday that al-Qaeda operatives have plans to attack merchant ships in an attempt to cripple the world economy and send oil prices soaring. Admiral Sir Alan West, the First Lord of the Admiralty, said security officials feared al-Qaeda would try to mine or bomb ships.

In a separate development, a British man was arrested yesterday following a request from the United States for his extradition to face terrorism charges.

Babar Ahmad, 30, was apprehended by officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Extradition and International Assistance Unit in south-west London. He is due to appear at Bow Street Magistrates’ Court today.

The warrant issued on behalf of the US authorities alleges that Ahmad used websites and e-mail based in the US between 1998 and 19 February, 2001, to supply money and property for "acts of terrorism" in Chechnya and Afghanistan.

In Saudi Arabia, security forces arrested a leading wanted militant, Faris al-Zahrani.