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Terrorists 'overheard', identified

world Updated: Oct 04, 2010 02:04 IST
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Some Pakistan-based terrorists who were plotting a Mumbai-style attack on London and other European cities have been identified by investigators here who matched their voices in intercepted calls with a secret database.

UK's top communication and intelligence agency has identified some of the terrorists in the recently-unravelled plot in which at least 20 young British Muslims were being trained at al-Qaeda terror camps in Pakistan to launch Mumbai-style attacks in Europe.

The government Communications Headquarters, Britain's electronic eavesdropping centre popularly known as GCHQ identified some of these terrorists, The Sunday Times said but did not name any.

The centre, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, intercepted calls made by British militants at a training camp in the tribal borders of Pakistan to identify the suspects. According to the paper, some are said to come from the Rochdale area, others from the Midlands.

Matching their voice prints allowed the security services to trace their connections to other individuals in their network.

A key aspect of GCHQ's work is the analysis of voice prints, a technique that can identify a voice speaking on a telephone in Afghanistan or Pakistan by matching it against a databank of suspects held by GCHQ.

"You pick up a voice and if you find a match for it in the database, you can get a name. Then you get the call data and see who the guy has been calling," one expert said.

The method was apparently used to pick up "credible" intelligence of the plan for simultaneous attacks by British and foreign insurgents against several European cities.

An MI5 surveillance operation began tracking potential suspects in London and northwest England earlier this year.

In a strike on September 8, three pilotless predator drones fired a barrage of hellfire missiles at a suspected militant hideout on the Ghulam Khan road in North Waziristan.

The missiles killed a British man, one of the two brothers said to be part of a 10-man

team at the heart of an al Qaeda plot against London and other European cities, the daily quoted a Pakistani intelligence official as saying.

The dead Briton was identified as Abdul Jabar, who originally hailed from Jhelum district and is said to be one of the team of jihadis planning Mumbai-type attacks in the UK, France and Germany.