April 24, 2009 -- After a series of high profile raids and terror-related arrests earlier this month, British authorities have transferred 11 of the suspects, all Pakistani nationals, into the custody of the U.K. Borders Agency. They are now facing possible deportation on national security grounds.
Earlier this week, British authorities were forced to release without charge all 12 men that had been suspected of plotting attacks on crowded shopping malls and night clubs over the Easter holiday weekend. British authorities had rushed to make the arrests after a top Scotland Yard terrorism official was photographed on his way to a meeting holding a "secret" document with operational details visible to the photographers. The official, Bob Quick, later resigned.
The major anti-terror operation took place in broad daylight across Northern England on April 8th. Several hundred officers were involved in the raids which were based on intelligence that the men were plotting what officials then described as a significant and imminent attack, possibly timed to the Easter weekend.
Police were forced to release all twelve men earlier this week without charge after prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to detain them further, nor to charge them.
A senior British intelligence source defended the arrests to ABCNews.com.
"Nothing has changed the calculation that intervention was required," the source said. "The call we made was the right move."
Terrorism Investigation Conitnues
The source emphasized the terror investigation is 'continuing'. A Special Immigration Appeals Commission will now consider the suspects' deportation.
This is the second time British authorities have failed to gain an immediate criminal conviction after a major anti-terror operation. In September 2008, a jury could not reach a verdict on four men accused of plotting to blow up airliners over the Atlantic in the so-called liquid bomb plot, though three others were convicted of conspiracy to murder. The remaining suspects will be retried.