“An Islamic terrorist suspect linked to al-Qa’ida has been arrested after apparently preparing himself for a suicide bombing in Britain.” This from The Australian, with thanks to Nicolei.
“The man, an Algerian asylum-seeker, had left suicide notes to his mother and sister warning them that he planned to ‘martyr’ himself. When he was strip-searched, police discovered he had shaved off all his body hair – a religious obligation often observed by would-be suicide bombers so that they are ‘clean’ before entering heaven. Documents found in the suitcase of Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the September 11 attacks, appeared to instruct all 19 of his hijackers to shave their body hair.
“The man, in his late 20s, was arrested during a series of raids by police who were investigating a network of terrorists loosely connected to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida movement. It is understood that he has been charged with unrelated terrorist offences.
“In notes to his sister and mother, the man wrote: ‘I hope you treat me as a hero and a martyr.’ The documents were recovered during a raid on his home, said to be in the north of England. The documents triggered a nationwide hunt for explosives that the man was believed to be planning to use. A target has not been identified but there are growing fears of a suicide bomb attack at an airport, shopping centre or railway station in and around the capital.
“Police passed the man’s details to MI5, which says there is insufficient evidence of a specific plot. One official said: ‘There are rituals that different ethnic groups have used in connection with martyrdom operations. Shaving your body hair is an indication, but it is not the only indication.’
“The discovery of the suicide notes before Christmas helps explain the growing concern of authorities over a suicide attack somewhere in Britain. . . . But MI5 director-general Eliza Manningham-Buller has told ministers of ‘chilling’ new evidence that al-Qa’ida may be planning a suicide attack at Heathrow airport. One intelligence source said: ‘Al-Qa’ida is very definitely air-oriented. An attack at Heathrow is considered to be a real threat.’
“Senior British law enforcement officials said last week they wanted to obtain bulk passenger lists so they could start checking names well before possible suspects check in at airports.”