- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 7, 2007

LONDON — Two suspects in the failed car bombings in Britain made inquiries about working in the United States, the FBI said yesterday, and police said an Iraqi doctor arrested at Glasgow Airport became the first person charged in the attacks.

An FBI spokeswoman said Mohammed Asha and another suspect had contacted the Philadelphia-based Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, as first reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Dr. Asha, a Jordanian physician of Palestinian heritage, contacted the agency within the past year, but apparently did not take the test for foreign medical school graduates, said the spokeswoman, Nancy O’Dowd.

“He was applying, [but] we don’t believe he took the test,” she said. She could not confirm the name of the second suspect to make inquiries.

Later, Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said police should charge Bilal Abdullah, 27, an Iraqi-born physician arrested at Glasgow Airport after a Jeep Cherokee he was purportedly traveling in rammed into a terminal building.

“I have now made the decision that there is sufficient evidence and authorized the charging of Bilal Abdullah with conspiracy to cause explosions following incidents in London and Glasgow,” said Susan Hemming, an anti-terrorism prosecutor.

On June 29, authorities defused two car bombs that had been set to explode near packed nightclubs and pubs in central London. The following day, two persons rammed a Jeep Cherokee loaded with gasoline canisters into the main terminal at Glasgow Airport. The car, loaded with crude bombs, crashed and caught fire, seriously burning one of the suspects.

“It was as if they were waiting there to get blown up,” said police Sgt. Torquil Campbell, who apprehended Dr. Abdullah and the Jeep’s purported driver, Khalid Ahmed, in the packed airport terminal.

The Iraqi-born doctor was known by others as an intensely militant Muslim at the University of Cambridge. His status at the university is not clear, but records show he graduated in Baghdad in 2004.

Dr. Ahmed, identified by staff at Glasgow’s Royal Alexandra Hospital as a Lebanese physician employed there, is now being treated for serious burns he got when he reportedly set himself on fire after crashing the Jeep.

All eight suspects were foreigners working for Britain’s National Health Service, six from countries in the Middle East and two from India, and investigators are pressing to find what brought them together.

Dr. Asha was arrested on the M6 highway last Saturday night along with his wife. In Jordan, security officials said Dr. Asha had no criminal record.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Britons could expect intensified security checks in the weeks ahead. A host of major public events are under way now or about to begin, including the annual Wimbledon tennis tournament, the Tour de France, and a Live Earth concert.

The country also is planning several ceremonies today to mark the second anniversary of the London suicide bombings that killed 52 persons and wounded more than 700 on July 7, 2005.

In Australia, police seized computers from two hospitals yesterday as they explored connections between the British plotters and Muhammad Haneef, an Indian doctor arrested there.

“There are a number of people now being interviewed as part of this investigation; it doesn’t mean that they’re all suspects, but it is quite a complex investigation and the links to the UK are becoming more concrete,” said Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty.

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