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8 in court over U.S. 'terror plot'

Two British police cars escort two armored prison vans carrying the suspects to court Wednesday.
Great Britain
Acts of terror

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Eight British terror suspects charged with conspiracy to commit murder in a plot linked to financial targets in the United States have appeared in a UK court.

The men, all charged with conspiracy to murder, and planning to use radioactive materials, chemicals, toxic gases or explosives in an attack, were remanded in custody to appear at Britain's top criminal court, the Old Bailey, on August 25.

Wednesday's appearance at a magistrates' court at London's high-security Belmarsh Prison was the first time the men had been seen in public since their arrests two weeks ago.

Amid tight security, the eight men each appeared in the dock for less than 10 minutes as a scattering of friends or relatives sat in the public gallery.

Two defendants appeared separately, two in a pair, and four in a group of four.

They were dressed identically in gray jogging trousers and white T-shirts or jumpers and spoke only to confirm their name and give their date of birth.

They sat silently as charges, including conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to "cause a public nuisance by the use of radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals or explosives" were read to them by the clerk.

One of the men, Dhiren Barot, 32, was also accused of having plans for four financial targets -- the Prudential building in New Jersey, the New York Stock Exchange and Citigroup headquarters in New York, and the International Monetary Fund in Washington.

U.S. officials have said Barot is the man they have named over the past two weeks as Abu Musa al-Hindi or Abu Eissa al-Hindi.

The other suspects are Abdul Aziz Jalil, 31, Omar Abdur Rehman, 20, Zia Ul Haq, 25, Nadeem Tarmohamed, 26, Mohammed Naveed Bhatti, 24, Quaisir Shaffi, 25 and Junade Feroze, 28.

A ninth man, Matthew Philip Monks, has been charged with possession of a prohibited weapon and will appear in court at a date yet to be determined.

Earlier this week U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said the Justice Department had been working closely with British authorities and other allies in the war on terror on this matter.

The scene in Blackburn, Lancashire, where two men were arrested.

"We commend the United Kingdom's action today in bringing criminal charges against individuals who may have connections to potential terrorist activities in the United States," Ashcroft said in a statement.

"Our expert team of agents and analysts from the FBI will continue to share information and expertise with their British colleagues."

In addition, prosecutors from the Justice Department's Counterterrorism Section and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan will explore every aspect of this case and evaluate whether additional charges, including potential charges in the United States, are appropriate," his statement added.

Under the UK's Terrorism Act 2000, 609 people have been arrested between September 11, 2001 and June of this year, the Home Office said.

The Home Office said 99 of those had been charged with offenses under the Act, including 38 who were also charged under other legislation. Of the 99 charged, 15 have been convicted.

The remainder were released without charge, bailed to ensure their return, cautioned, charged under other legislation or dealt with under immigration or mental health legislation, the Home Office said.

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