- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 3, 2007

GLASGOW, Scotland — British police focused today on at least four physicians with roots outside Britain — including a doctor seized at an Australian airport with a one-way ticket — in the investigation into failed car bombings in Glasgow and London.

Separately, two men were arrested today in an industrial park in northwestern England under the Terrorism Act, but a statement from Lancashire police said it was “too early to confirm whether or not these arrests are linked to recent events in London and Glasgow.”

At least four of the eight suspects directly tied to the terror investigation were identified as doctors from Iraq, Jordan and India. One of the doctors from India, 27-year-old Muhammad Haneef, was arrested at Brisbane’s international airport, where he was trying to board a flight, the Australian attorney general said.

British newspapers and television reported that at least two persons detained Sunday in Scotland were physician trainees.

Mark Shone, a spokesman for Halton Hospital in England, said Dr. Haneef worked there in 2005 as a temporary doctor, coming in when needed. He also confirmed a 26-year-old man arrested in Liverpool late Saturday — also Indian — practiced at the hospital but he would not provide the man’s name or more details.

Amid increased security at British airports and train stations and on city streets, a bomb disposal team carried out a controlled explosion today on a suspicious car parked outside a mosque in Glasgow.

Strathclyde Police Superintendent Stewart Daniels told the British Broadcasting Corp. there was “absolutely no specific information” of a threat from the vehicle but that it had been detonated as a precaution.

On Saturday, two men rammed a Jeep Cherokee loaded with gas cylinders into the terminal at Glasgow Airport, then set the vehicle on fire. On Friday, two car bombs failed to explode in central London.

Police also were investigating an attack on an Asian news agent early today in Glasgow, in which a car was rammed into the shop and caught fire or set ablaze, and the torching of a real estate office next to a mosque near Edinburgh on Monday.

Police have yet to establish whether either attack was racially motivated, but Osama Saeed, Scottish spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain, said tension was increasing.

A British security official said yesterday that Pakistan and several other nations were asked to check possible links with the suspects. British-born terrorists behind the bloody 2005 London transit bombings and others in thwarted plots here were linked to terror training camps and foreign radicals in Pakistan.

Authorities said police searched at least 19 locations as part of the “fast-moving investigation,” which has come at a time of already high vigilance before the anniversary of the suicide bombings in London that killed 52 persons on July 7, 2005.

The British government security official said investigators were working on one theory that the same people may have driven the explosives-laden cars into London and the blazing SUV in Glasgow.

The unidentified driver of the Jeep was being treated for serious burns at Royal Alexandra Hospital in Glasgow, where he was under arrest. Bomb experts carried out a second controlled explosion on a car at the hospital yesterday, after a similar blast Sunday. Police said the car was linked to the investigation, but no explosives had been found.

Authorities identified Bilal Abdulla, an Iraqi doctor who worked at the Glasgow hospital, as the other man arrested at the airport. Staff at the Glasgow hospital said Dr. Abdulla was a diabetes specialist.

Dr. Haneef, 27, was being detained in Australia under counterterrorism laws that allow police to hold a suspect without charge as long as a judge agrees there are grounds to do so, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said.

No charges were filed today, and Mr. Keelty stressed the police had yet to determine what role, if any, Dr. Haneef had in the plots. Officials did not say where he was bound when he was detained.

“The doctor was regarded by the hospital as, in many senses, a model citizen — excellent references and so on,” said Queensland Prime Minister Peter Beattie.

A man arrested late Saturday on a highway in central England also was a physician, Mohammed Jamil Abdelqader Asha, police said. A Jordanian official said Dr. Asha was of Palestinian descent and carried a Jordanian passport.

Azmi Mahafzah, Dr. Asha’s instructor at the University of Jordan medical school, said he knew Dr. Asha during his studies and training from 1998 to 2004.

“I didn’t even have the impression that he was religious,” he said. “He interacted with others, both boys and girls. He has no prejudices. He is not a fanatic type of person.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide