Source: U.S., U.K. at odds over timing of arrests
British wanted to continue surveillance on terror suspects, official says
By Aram Roston, Lisa Myers, and the NBC News Investigative Unit
Updated: 5:13 p.m. PT Aug 12, 2006
LONDON - NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.
A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said . The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.
In contrast to previous reports, the official suggested an
The source did say, however, that police believe one U.K.-based suspect was ready to conduct a "dry run." British authorities had wanted to let him go forward with part of the plan, but the Americans balked.
At the White House, a top aide to President Bush denied the account.
"There was unprecedented cooperation and coordination between the U.S., the U.K. and Pakistani officials throughout the case," said Frances Townsend, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, "and we worked together to protect our citizens from harm while ensuring that we gathered as much info as possible to bring the plotters to justice. There was no disagreement between U.S. and U.K. officials."
Another U.S. official, however, acknowledges there was disagreement over timing. Analysts say that in recent years, American security officials have become edgier than the British in such cases because of missed opportunities leading up to 9/11.
Aside from the timing issue, there was excellent cooperation between the British and the Americans, officials told NBC.
The British official said the
The official shed light on other aspects of the case, saying that
He acknowledged that authorities had conducted electronic and e-mail surveillance as well as physical surveillance of the suspects.
Monitoring of Rauf, in particular, apparently played a critical role, revealing that the plotters had tested the explosive liquid mixture they planned to use at a location outside Britain. NBC News has previously reported that the explosive mixture was tested in Pakistan. The source said the suspects in Britain had obtained at least some of the materials for the explosive but had not yet actually prepared or mixed it.
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