U.K. terror suspect made U.S. inquiry
( AP ) - British intelligence agencies are looking into possible connections between al-Qaida in Iraq and the eight suspects in failed car bombings, and the FBI confirmed that one of the suspects contacted a clearinghouse for foreign doctors in the United States. FBI spokeswoman Nancy O'Dowd said Mohammed Asha had contacted the Philadelphia-based Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, but she declined to release further details of the contact, which was first reported in Friday editions of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
"From what I know, we are getting to the bottom of this cell that has been responsible for what is happening," Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. television.
Asha was arrested on the M6 highway Saturday night along with his wife. In Jordan, security officials said Asha had no criminal record, and friends and family said they found it hard to believe either he or his wife were connected with terrorism.
As police continue to question the eight suspects - six Middle Easterners and two Indian nationals - Britain's intelligence agencies are focusing on their international links, one British intelligence official and another government official said speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the press.
"We've known for quite some time of al-Qaida's growth in Iraq," the government official told The Associated Press. " Iraq is an obvious place to look for connections, but it's not the only country link we're investigating."
MI5, Britain's domestic intelligence agency, said on its Web site that some Britons had joined the Iraqi insurgency.
"In the longer term, it is possible that they may later return to the UK and consider mounting attacks here," the Web site said. "British and foreign nationals linked to or sympathetic with al-Qaida are known to be present within the UK. They are supporting the activities of terrorist groups in a range of ways."
Metropolitan police, who are leading the investigation into the failed bombing attacks in London and Glasgow, Scotland, refused on Friday to confirm or deny the role the MI5 and MI6 are playing in the probe.
Al-Qaida in Iraq is believed to have become better organized since Abu Ayyub al-Masri, an Egyptian, took it over from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian who was killed by coalition forces a year ago. Iraqi officials also have said the terrorist group is now delegating more authority to sympathetic cells in other countries.
The eight suspects arrested in Saturday's airport attack and two failed car bombings a day earlier in London were all foreigners working for Britain's state health system, and investigators are pressing to find what brought them together.
In Australia, police seized computers from two hospitals Friday 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 U.K. are becoming more concrete," said Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty.
Muslim groups in Britain placed advertisements in British national newspapers in praise of the emergency services and to declare that terrorism is "not in our name," borrowing the slogan from the mass protests in Britain against the invasion of Iraq.
The ads from the Muslims United coalition also quoted the Quran: "Whoever kills an innocent soul, it is as if he killed the whole of mankind. And whoever saves one, it is as if he saved the whole of mankind."
The eight suspects arrested in Britain following Saturday's airport attack and two failed car bombings a day earlier in London were all foreigners employed in the National Health Service.
Brown said the British public could expect intensified security checks in the weeks ahead.
"Crowded places and airports, I think people will have to accept that the security will be more intense," Brown said. "We have got to avoid the possibility - and it is very, very difficult - that people can use these crowded places for explosions."