LONDON — Nine men accused of terrorism and conspiracy to blow up high-profile targets that reportedly included the U.S. Embassy and the London Stock Exchange made their first appearance Monday in a central London court.
The nine range in age from 19 to 28, and most are of Bangladeshi origin. They were among 12 men arrested a week ago in three cities around Britain. Three were released without charge.
The nine were charged late Sunday with preparing to cause explosions during the holiday season. They appeared in London's Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday in three groups.
Antiterrorism prosecutor Sue Hemming said the nine men were charged with preparing to either commit terrorist acts or assisting in them.
The men were also accused of igniting and testing incendiary materials and downloading material for the preparation of acts of terrorism, Reuters reported, and five of them were charged with possession of documents and records of potential use to terrorists. They will reappear in London's central criminal court, the Old Bailey, on Jan. 14.
The Guardian newspaper identified the nine as Nazam Hussain, 25, Usman Khan, 19, Mohibur Rahman, 26, and Abul Bosher Mohammed Shahjahan, 26, from Stoke-on-Trent in central England; Gurukanth Desai, 28, Omar Sharif Latif, 26, and Abdul Malik Miah, 24, who were detained in Cardiff, South Wales; and Mohammed Moksudur Rahman Chowdhury, 20, and Shah Mohammed Lutfar Rahman, 28, of London.
While few details were revealed about the targets, the BBC reported that the men were accused of carrying out reconnaissance of high-profile targets, including the U.S. Embassy and the London Stock Exchange.
Their arrest and charges come amid ongoing concerns about terrorism activity in Europe. On Dec. 11 a suicide bomber killed himself in an attack in Stockholm, Sweden.
Dutch authorities arrested 12 Somalis in Rotterdam over the weekend. Five of them have been released without charge.
Last week Italian anarchists said they were responsible for letter bombs that injured two people in embassies in Rome. Another device was found and defused at the Greek Embassy in Rome on Monday.