Terrorist cell behind bomb plot "not yet neutralised" Scotland Yard counter terrorism chief warns of "further attacks"
July 2, 2007
Doctors arrested in terror probe named
Two of the terror suspects arrested as police investigate attacks on London and Glasgow are foreign doctors who were working in British hospitals.
Bilal Abdulla, an Iraqi doctor, was arrested at the scene of the attempted car bombing at Glasgow airport.
The other medic is a Jordanian, who has been working in Britain for around two years.
Dr Mohammad Asha, 26, was arrested by anti-terror police with a 27-year-old woman believed to be his wife, Dana, on the M6 motorway.
Jamil Abdel Kader Asha, Dr Asha's father said that he learnt about his son's arrest through the media and claimed his "son is incapable of such acts".
The couple's car was boxed in by a number of unmarked police cars which shepherded them onto the hard shoulder as they drove north near Sandbach service area in Cheshire, 12 miles from their three-bedroom home in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire.
Police in London have secured warrants to continue holding the pair in custody until Saturday, along with a 26-year-old man arrested in Liverpool. All three are being questioned at Paddington Green police station in west London.
The driver of the Jeep that crashed into Glasgow airport was taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in a critical condition, but he was not formally arrested as he is too badly injured to be questioned.
Tonight Scotland Yard announced another person had been arrested in connection with the terrorist attacks bringing the total now in custody to seven. At present, anti-terrorism police can hold the suspects for a maximum of 28 days without charge, although Gordon Brown has signalled that he wants to increase this to 90 days.
Dr Asha is reported to work in the neurology department at the North Staffordshire hospital, in Hartshill, Stoke-on-Trent. He qualified in Jordan in 2004 and is registered to work in this country until 2008, it is thought he holds a Jordainian passport and is of Palestinian origin.
His father called on the Government in Jordan to intervene and secure his son's release. "Not all Arabs are terrorists," he said.
Jamil Asha confirmed that his son had obtained his medical degree in Jordan before moving to the UK. "I cannot imagine he had any other goal than to realise his ambition by studying in Britain," he said, describing his son as pious but not extremist.
Dr Asha's house was today being searched by police, as was a second address in the town, according to reports. Dr Asha's office at the hospital was also searched.
The sixth and seventh suspects, men aged 28 and 25, were arrested last night in the Paisley area, near Glasgow.
In a further development police today carried out two controlled explosions on a vehicle in the grounds of the Royal Alexandra Hospital, officers expect a third to be detonated this evening. Another controlled explosion was staged on a separate car in the hospital car park yesterday.
The new Home Secretary Jacqui Smith gave a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon. She paid tribute to the bravery of the emergency services and members of the public in the wake of the attempted terrorist attacks in the UK.
"It is through our unity that the terrorists will eventually be defeated," she said. "We will not be intimidated by terror."
Ms Smith said that police activity had been "substantially" increased since the attacks and that at least 19 locations had been searched by police.
"Terrorism is a serious threat to us all," she told MPs, "We need to ensure that the message of the terrorists is rejected."
The terror campaign emerged after two Mercedes cars were discovered in central London on Friday, packed with gas cylinders, petrol and a large quantity of nails.
On Saturday, two men were apprehended, after a blazing Jeep containing gas cylinders was driven into the departures lounge at Glasgow airport.
Police are understood to be following leads from mobile phone records in the fast-paced investigation.
Security sources have told The Times that the terrorist group behind the latest wave of bombing plots has not yet been neutralised. With an unknown number of suspects still at large, other attacks could hit cities in the United Kingdom.
As the head of Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorism Command confirmed that the two car bombs discovered in London and the blazing Jeep incident at Glasgow airport were linked, a source said: "There is a group of individuals out there who have the capability and the intent to carry out attacks in the UK. In our judgment it is very likely there will be further attacks."
The security service raised Britain's alert status to "critical" at the weekend after the airport attack. The alert will remain at critical until MI5 and the police are sure that there are no further attacks being planned by the cell.
Commuters and people travelling longer distances by rail and air will notice changes today with a heightened police presence. A Scotland Yard spokesman said that more officers would be on patrol at mainline stations and on the streets to act as a "highly visible reassurance".
Peter Clarke, Scotland Yard's counterterrorism chief, said he was confident that the investigation would uncover who was behind the attacks.
MI5 and the police are searching through their databases to see if there is any trace of known suspects who may be connected to the London and Glasgow plots. One source said that the real fear was that the terrorists may turn out to be new suspects who had evaded MI5's expanding surveillance and monitoring operations — known as "clean skins".
In his first broadcast interview since becoming Prime Minister, Gordon Brown said yesterday that the attacks in London and Glasgow were perpetrated by people who were associated with al-Qaeda.
Mr Brown urged people to continue "living their lives as normal". But for the general public, the repercussions of the plots were immediately clear. Tighter restrictions at airports caused long queues at the start of the holiday season. There was also a heavier police presence at railway stations.
Reports that a number of terror suspects on control orders who had absconded might be responsible were dismissed by security sources. Seven suspects have gone missing, but it is thought they have all left the country.
Sources denied a report from the US that America had warned British intelligence two weeks ago of a plot to attack Glasgow airport. Asked about the report today, the Home Secretary said she was "not certain".