LONDON - At least three physicians were identified
Monday among suspects arrested in Britain's failed car bomb attacks, and
authorities announced three new arrests - including a doctor in Australia - as
the investigation spread overseas.
British media reports said an
Indian doctor also was among the eight people in custody and another outlet said
at least five of the detainees in Britain were physicians. British police
confirmed a Palestinian doctor and Iraqi physician were among those held, while
Australian officials said a foreign doctor working there had been detained in
Armed police officers patrol Glasgow Airport in Scotland July
2, 2007. [Reuters]
Officers used heightened stop-and-search powers and armed response vehicles
to hunt for anyone else who might have been involved in the plot, and police put
on a show of force to bolster security at airports and train stations and on
Hours after police announced the arrests of two more people in the Glasgow
area, officials said an eighth suspect was detained "abroad by local
Australian authorities later said he was arrested at the airport in Brisbane
while trying to leave the country. Queensland state Premier Peter Beattie
described the suspect as a 27-year-old man but withheld his identity. Australian
Attorney General Philip Ruddock said the suspect was a doctor at a Queensland
state hospital but was not a citizen.
A British security official said earlier in the day 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
"We have asked partners overseas to check possible links and that work has
begun," the security official said, adding that it was still possible some
British-born people were involved in the plot.
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 people
on July 7, 2005.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has said the group behind the weekend
attacks was "associated with al-Qaida," got a call from President Bush
commending him for Britain's response.
"President Bush concluded by reiterating that the United States is prepared
to offer any assistance desired, and noted the importance of continued
cooperation," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the White House's National
Two US counterterrorism officials, who agreed to discuss the case only if not
quoted by name, said the attackers in Britain were Islamic extremists
sympathetic to al-Qaida, but investigators were still trying to figure out
whether there were any direct links.
One of the officials also said there continued to be concerns about possible
plots to attack the United States, including the potential for a large-scale
assault by al-Qaida. Among the factors contributing to the worry are al-Qaida's
efforts to recruit in Pakistan's tribal areas and its increased flow of public
messages, the official said.
In the latest attacks, two car bombs failed to explode in central London on
Friday and two men rammed a Jeep Cherokee loaded with gas cylinders into the
entrance of Glasgow International Airport and then set it on fire Saturday.
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 by armed police.
Bomb experts carried out a second controlled explosion on a car at the hospital
Monday, after a similar blast Sunday. Police said the car was linked to the
investigation, but no explosives had been found.
Police announced Monday that they arrested two men the previous day at
residences at the hospital, but would not say whether they were doctors.
Britain's Sky Television described them as trainee physicians, without citing a
source for its report.
Four men and a woman were detained earlier.
Authorities identified Bilal Abdulla, an Iraqi doctor who worked at the
Glasgow hospital, was the other man arrested at the airport and said he was
being held at a high-security police station in Glasgow.
According to the British General Medical Council's register, a man named
Bilal Talal Abdul Samad Abdulla was registered in 2004 and trained in Baghdad.
Staff at the Glasgow hospital said Abdulla was a diabetes specialist.
A man arrested late Saturday on a highway in central England was also a
physician, Mohammed Jamil Abdelqader Asha, police said. A Jordanian official
said Asha was of Palestinian descent and carried a Jordanian passport.
Britain's The Independent and The Muslim News newspapers reported that a man
arrested in Liverpool late Saturday was a 26-year-old doctor from Bangalore,
India, who worked at Halton Hospital in Cheshire, northern England. Police would
not immediately comment on the reports.
The Muslim News also said the Indian doctor had used the car, cell phone and
Internet account of a fellow physician who had moved from England to Australia
around a year ago. It said police had asked friends of the Indian for details
about the man who went to Australia.
"This case could be the final proof that an idea those involved in these type
of attacks are all young, angry and poorly educated is a mistake," said Paul
Cornish, a former British army officer and director of defense studies at
London's Chatham House think tank.
"It's wrong to suggest al-Qaida are ignorant hill men. They are often middle
or upper class and well educated," Cornish said.
Former US intelligence officer Bob Ayers, now a security analyst based in
London, said wealth or intelligence matters little to people committed to
"We shouldn't be surprised that educated men are as involved as poor
youngsters," he said. "They all subscribe to the same radical ideology, that's
the only criteria they need to fill."
Salil Vengalil, a doctor at North Staffordshire Hospital, near the Midlands
town of Newcastle-under-Lyme, said Asha worked in the neurology department at