British suspects linked to 9/11 plotter

LONDON - Two of the terror suspects being questioned over the alleged British plane plot are being investigated for links with the September 11 attacks.

British and German intelligence say the pair may have had contact with Said Bahaji, wanted for allegedly being part of Mohammed Atta's al Qaeda cell. Bahaji was based in Germany before the 2001 strikes on New York and Washington, but is believed to have fled to Pakistan.

Uncorroborated reports say the suspected bombers contacted Bahaji through his wife who still lives in Hamburg. It is believed that calls were traced to a phone number associated with Bahaji.

British police are continuing to search for evidence of a plot by suspected suicide bombers to blow up airliners with liquid explosive smuggled through security checks. United States Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales warned yesterday that new security measures such as a ban on carrying liquids and gels on to commercial planes might be permanent if officials cannot figure out how to screen the kinds of materials suspects allegedly plotted to use to blow up US-bound airplanes. X-ray machines used at airports do not detect explosives.

In London, passengers struggled to endure interminable waits, as delays, cancellations and heightened security continued despite Britain's decision to lower the terror threat level.

At Heathrow, 68 flights were cancelled. Tony Douglas, the British Airports Authority's chief executive of Heathrow, predicted fewer flights would be affected today.

Passengers were being allowed to carry mobile phones, laptops and electric key fobs on board, but cosmetics, gels, toothpaste, liquids and sharp objects were still forbidden inside cabins.

- INDEPENDENT, AGENCIES

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