Fayner Posts: Good for England. Now this is how you foil terror plots. A few of the bad men are apparently still on the loose, but England will get them ’cause Fran says they will!

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Police are said to be urgently hunting up to 10 bomb suspects thought to be involved in a plot to cause "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" by blowing up UK flights heading to the US this week.

Some 24 people have been arrested over the alleged plot but American television reports say at least five people – possibly up to 10 – are still at large.

The ABC network has said 22 of those in custody are of Pakistani origin, one is Bangladeshi and another is Iranian. Officials have said all the suspects are British citizens.

Scotland Yard has not commented on the reports.

Britain is on ‘critical’ alert – the highest terror alert level.

Home Secretary John Reid has said he believes the "main players" are in custody but he has also warned against complacency.

The police operation to foil to the alleged plot has caused chaos at airports across the country.

Terrorists had apparently planned to smuggle explosives aboard 10 airliners as hand luggage – which could have been missed during x-ray screening.

The planes would then have been blown up in flight. Five US cities are thought to have been among the targets, including New York, Washington and Los Angeles.

Security agents believe the plot would have been carried out within two or three days had it not been uncovered.

Hundreds of flights into and from the UK have been cancelled and thousands of travellers’ journeys disrupted.

Speaking at Scotland Yard, Deputy Commissioner Paul Stephenson said the plot would have caused "mass murder on an unimaginable scale".

Arrests have been made in London, Birmingham and the Thames Valley, the culmination of a covert counter-terrorist operation lasting several months.

Mr Reid said: "We are involved in a long, wide and deep struggle against very evil people."

Another senior Met officer, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, said "an unprecedented level of surveillance" led up to the arrests, and said the plot had a "global dimension".

A number of business premises and houses have been sealed off by the police, including several in High Wycombe.

Sources in the United States say at least three airlines were targeted – United, American and Continental.

Security sources believe liquid explosives would have been carried separately onto flights and then mixed on board to make a lethal concoction.

US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the conspiracy was sophisticated, well-advanced and well-planned and "suggestive of an al Qaeda plot".

He introduced a ban on liquids being carried on to US planes, saying the plotters had been planning to use liquid explosives disguised as drinks along with electronic devices made to look like everyday items.

Whitehall sources said the Prime Minister and President Bush had been in contact over the plot for some time.

The White House has said the plot represented a "direct threat" to the United States. Mr Bush said it was a reminder of the threat posed by "Islamic fascists".

Tony Blair praised the work of the security services. He is said to be monitoring the situation while he continues his holiday in the Caribbean.

British Airways has cancelled all domestic and European flights while those to Britain operated by Lufthansa, Iberia, Olympic, KLM and Air France have also been stopped.

Low-cost airlines Ryanair and Easyjet cancelled their flights during the day at Luton, Stansted and Gatwick.

It is believed that 400,000 travellers have been affected.

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