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Gagged by ISI, says UK terror suspect

London, Sept. 18: A terrorist trial of seven men accused of being al Qaida members and planning a bombing campaign in Britain was dramatically halted today when one of them alleged that Pakistan's ISI had warned his family of serious consequences if he revealed too many secrets.

Omar Khyam, 24, denies planning a terrorist act in the UK and was today due to answer questions at a London court on why he and the others had bought 600 kg of ammonium nitrate fertiliser - material that can be used for making a bomb.

Khyam entered the witness box last week and spent two days talking about going to Pakistan to receive military training and then "working for the cause" to free Islamic lands. On Friday, he spoke about raising money for Afghanistan using fraud.

Asked by his counsel, Joel Bennathan, whether he had bought the fertiliser with the help of others, he replied he would not go on.

Khyam stunned the court by declaring: "Before we go on to that topic, I just want to say the ISI in Pakistan has had words with my family relating to what I have been saying about them."

He added: "I think they are worried I might reveal more about them, so right now, as much as I want to clarify matters, the priority for me has to be the safety of my family so I am going to stop.

"I am not going to discuss anything related to the ISI any more or the evidence."

Khyam, his brother Shujah Mahmood, 19, Waheed Mahmood, 34, and Jawad Akbar, 23, all from Crawley, Sussex, Salahuddin Amin, 31, from Luton, Bedfordshire, Anthony Garcia, 24, of Ilford, east London, and Nabeel Hussain, 21, of Horley, Surrey, deny conspiring to cause explosions likely to endanger life between January 1, 2003, and March 31, 2004.

The men were arrested at the end of March 2004.

Khyam, Garcia and Hussain also deny a charge under the terrorism act of possessing the ammonium nitrate fertiliser for terrorism.

Khyam and Shujah Mahmood further deny possessing aluminium powder for terrorism.

After more than an hour, the court resumed today for the judge to warn Khyam that the jury could draw inferences from his refusal to continue.

Sir Michael Astill told Khyam: "If you refuse to answer questions, the jury may draw such inferences as appears proper from your failure to do so."

Khyam answered "yes" when asked if he understood. The jury was then told to leave the courtroom and the trial adjourned until tomorrow.

In a separate trial, 13 men charged in connection with the alleged airliner bomb plot appeared in court today via video-link. The men, being held at Belmarsh high-security prison in southeast London, spoke only to confirm their names to the judge.

Eight were charged on August 21 with conspiracy to murder and a new offence of preparing acts of terrorism under the 2006 Terrorism Act.

Meanwhile, The restrictions on hand luggage, introduced after the alleged plot was uncovered, are due to be eased. Transport secretary (minister) Douglas Alexander will put new proposals to the airline industry at a meeting of the National Aviation Security Committee.

He is expected to say that larger bags should be allowed to be carried on planes by passengers.

It is estimated that the disruption at airports has cost an estimated £300 million, with British Airways alone losing £40 million after being forced to cancel 1,280 flights.

It is assumed that Indian musicians who come frequently to the UK for concerts will in the future be allowed to bring their sitars and sarods as part of cabin baggage, rather than being forced to transport the delicate instruments as checked baggage.

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